We now have the great distinction of the shortest school year in the nation - 163 days. The national average is 180. Japan averages 243 and China averages 251. These countries also have longer school days allowing them to cover more subjects in greater depth. The sad fact of the matter is that our children will be ill prepared to compete in an increasingly interconnected world.
The legislature should immediately enact a law establishing a minimum number of school days, thereby making furloughs that shorten the school year illegal. This would end the current furloughs and prevent any future jackassery. Shortening our school year should never have been on the table. I don't understand why our governor has left the majority of this critical negotiation to her policy adviser, and I don't know how HSTA ever allowed this to be considered. Governor - You claim to have committed to establishing an innovation economy in Hawaii. How can we do that when we have the lowest standards for education in the country? We need to graduate competitive students to have a competitive workforce. HSTA - Please think of the students first and yourselves second. While the purpose of your union is to improve work conditions for teachers, which is admirable, your first responsibility as educators is to ensure our students receive a quality education. Please keep your priorities straight.
I believe we should pass a bill establishing a minimum of 200 schools days with at least seven hours of instruction per day. This would at least move us into the ballpark of other developed countries. Is it affordable? Countries with far less money have longer school years. Russia's economy is a disaster. They have 210. They've simply made it more of a priority.
I have great respect for the community leaders who are taking action on this issue. Notably, James Koshiba of Kanu Hawaii, who has spent months engaged in email campaigns, working through the Kanu site, and promoting vigils. I urge all members of the TechHui community to support his initiatives to end the furloughs and pass legislation to prevent this crime from being perpetrated on future generations of public school children in Hawaiʻi. We can't build an innovation economy without the foundation of a sound school system.