Governor Neil Abercrombie this morning sent a letter to the Hawai'i State Teachers Association (HSTA) stating that the State of Hawai'i is ready to work together to move forward and is requesting a proposal.
"I believe the agreement was negotiated in good faith, and I am disappointed in the result," stated Governor Abercrombie. "As always, I remain focused on doing what is in the best interest of Hawai'i's children. We are ready to negotiate further."
The Governor believes that the teachers may have not been fully aware of the positive aspects of the tentative agreement. The State was prepared to invest $72 million for teacher salary increases based on performance. In addition, the State was agreeable to re-negotiating the salary scales should there be money available.
"This is about investing in our future -- not just solving a labor dispute," said Governor Abercrombie.
The tentative agreement was aimed at teacher advancement and student achievement. Last night, teachers rejected the proposed six-year contract. During a news conference this afternoon, the Governor explained the following points that were included in the tentative agreement:
* Teachers would receive more money:
1. On July 1, 2013, teachers' pay would be restored to levels prior to labor cost-saving measures at Fiscal Year 2009 levels (as applicable to all public employees who took a 5 percent cut).
2. In addition, eligible teachers would receive step increases of at least 1 percent each year.
* The new performance-based evaluation would begin in 2013-14; this will be based on a two year-pilot aimed at developing and refining performance-based evaluation tools:
1. The evaluation design was based on National Education Association recommendations, which include measures of teachers' professional practice and their students' learning and growth.
2. Evaluations must be fair and objective.
* The evaluations will be developed in collaboration with teachers:
1. Effective evaluation results are based on meaningful feedback in order for teachers to improve their practice. The agreement included the state Department of Education's commitment to professional collaboration with teachers and HSTA in the development and implementation of the performance-based evaluation tools.
Ratification would have been a significant advancement as Hawai'i works towards securing its spot in the federal Race to the Top grant. The areas mentioned in the tentative contract addressed a number of items that the U.S. Department of Education raised in putting Hawai'i on high-risk status.
"This is no ordinary grant. Race to the Top is about transforming our education system," said Governor Abercrombie. "It is important to note that we are still in the running for this grant because it is based on our state's plans. We are committed to making the necessary changes in providing the best learning environment for our teachers and students."
The State stands ready to review a proposal from the HSTA.