Senator Mazie K. Hirono released the following statement after Hawaii teachers overwhelmingly ratified a new four-year contract that strengthens Hawaii's chance of keeping $75 million in federal education funding through the U.S. Department of Education's Race to the Top reform initiative.
"The contract agreement is great news for Hawaii's students and teachers. While Hawaii is not out of the clear, the contract vote is a big step in helping Hawaii retain $75 million in federal education money. I will continue to work closely with the U.S. Department of Education, the Hawaii Department of Education, teachers, parents, students and other groups to ensure our state continues to make progress in meeting the requirements for keeping the funds."
In December 2011, the U.S. Department of Education put the grant on "high-risk" status due in part to the lack of a teacher contract. The new contract will likely improve standing in one of the categories originally cited by DOE. Hawaii was originally awarded the funds in August 2010 to improve student achievement. The Hawaii Department of Education has already used portions of Race to the Top funding for teacher training, technology, data to track student progress and intensive supports in high-need schools.