Hawaii schools struggle to keep new teachers


Dennis Tynan, right, talks to 9th grader Chyda Iokua during a 9th grade social studies class at Nakakuli High and Intermediate School in Waianae, Hawaii on Friday, Aug. 9, 2013. Hawaii, the only state with a single, statewide district, has long had to turn to the mainland because local teacher education programs can’t produce enough graduates to fill classrooms across the islands, especially in remote schools.  (AP Photo/Jennifer Sinco Kelleher)
by Jennifer Sinco Kelleher
Associated Press Writer

WAIANAE, Hawaii (AP) — Hawaii’s Department of Education is offering bonuses, cultural classes and mentoring in an effort to keep new teachers.

Hawaii schools have long recruited teachers from the mainland. But it’s difficult to get them to stay as they face culture shock, high cost of living and long distances from their families.

Teacher retention is one of the key reforms that won Hawaii a federal $75 million “Race to the Top” grant.

Alex Harris is the state education official overseeing reform efforts involving teachers. He says a $1,500 bonus to work in “hard-to-staff” schools will increase to $3,000 next school year.

A new recruitment perk targets mainland teachers who can fill badly needed special education vacancies by offering them relocation bonuses. The highest amount is $6,000 to work in low-performing, high-poverty schools.

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