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       If you think teachers will ratify the proposed contract agreement between the State and the HSTA, (Star Advertiser, 1/12/2012) perhaps, you might reconsider those issues listed on the front page chalkboard illustration. Last Friday, when the media announced that there was a tentative agreement, I expected it. The feds are coming to town to take stock on "Hawaii's Race To The Top." Teachers current non-contract with the State, is one of the so called sticking points, making Hawaii "at risk" to getting the money. How can contract issues between the State and the HSTA have anything to do with closing the student gap, creating higher performing schools, or educational reform? Of course, I know the obvious connection, still, the spotlight focuses on teachers for this debacle, and, for all the wrong reasons. It is the Governor, the State Legislature, the DOE, the BOE, and the HSTA, who should be lit up center stage.
     How magnanimous; teacher pay restored to 2009 levels... next year. Make that one year and seven months from now. Long ago and far away. The key word here is restore. The price of living costs continue to rise daily. Today, teachers are not receiving 2009 level wages.
     It's useless to self aggrandize, and there are too many great educators in the teaching ranks, so I will put performance based pay raises on the back burner. The same goes for teacher evaluations, but you should know, that currently, the highest rating a teacher can earn for his/her work after being observed by an administrator for a year is: "Satisfactory." Also, I take great umbrage with the idea that teachers should be evaluated by student test score results. The bureaucrats, once again, choose the wrong path.
     My alter ego, "The unknown teacher," discussed this issue on the local T.V. news. No change in the 50-50 health insurance contributions. The truth be told, I thought the 10% health insurance contribution increase was more than fair when I read about it in the newspaper. It looked good on paper, and didn't sound too bad. Eighty-seven dollars increased to ninety-five dollars twice a month was not only reasonable, it was affordable. Only an eight or nine dollar increase; 10% right? Wrong! Wrong ten percent that is. Imagine my surprise when the medical deduction went from $87 dollars to $184 dollars twice a month. A whopping 120% increase.
     Now comes the 5 % salary cut. Understand how this has affected teacher retirement benefits. This plan realized how the State could create a monetary windfall for the future by wiping out near retirement teachers benefit expectations for their "big 3". Anybody out there know what I am talking about? I digress.
     I was embarrassed and humiliated when I saw that Teachers will get 4 extra days off. I already hear the accusations, "What? More time off? Teachers all ready have too much time off! It's time for teachers to work year round!" Sometimes I feel like we pay those who have become exactly who we are paying them to defend us against. Ratify? Do teachers have a choice?
"Why champion those who will not champion themselves?" John Nippolt 2012