Rep. Shimabukuro submitted testimony to the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board regarding proposed amendments. See her full testimony below:
Hawaii Teacher Standards Board
Public Hearing on Administrative Rules
Kapolei Middle School Cafetorium
Wednesday, March 3, 2010, 6 P.M.
To: Jonathan Gillentine, Chairperson
From: Representative Maile Shimabukuro
Re: Proposed amendments to Administrative Rules: Chapter 8-54
I thank the Chair and Members of the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board (HTSB) for this opportunity to present testimony today. As a State Representative from an area that has experienced a high level of teacher turnover over many years, I am attentive to any action or process that will have either positive or negative impact on teacher retention. Constituents in my Wai'anae Coast district value the dedicated teachers who serve in our community. It is on their behalf that I express my concerns on certain proposed changes to our teacher licensing standards.
As I look through the 58 pages of rules under consideration, I see changes that are definite improvements. Other changes—brought to my attention by concerned teachers in my district—seem to be steps in the wrong direction. These changes have been characterized as harsh, punitive, unfair and regressive. They propose licensing standards and practices that are more stringent and disrespectful of teachers' rights than any other state in the union.
One glaring example of a negative change is the one that says that "the Board may revoke, suspend, deny or refuse to renew or extend" for various reasons or for a breach of ethics. A list of sixteen (16) reasons is then listed—the second of which is for a "misdemeanor conviction." That means that teachers stand to lose their license for any misdemeanor, however petty. While some misdemeanors may be worse than others, it is clearly unfair that the commission of a less serious misdemeanor would be grounds for a teacher losing a job and a school losing an excellent teacher. HTSB would make better use of its authority by restricting its rule-making to standards that relate more directly to one's ability to teach and grow within the profession.
I urge the Board to take seriously the concerns our teachers have raised for your consideration.
Mahalo for this opportunity to testify!