Hawaii decided to fix their budget shortfall by eliminating 17 days from this school year in exchange for an 8 percent reduction in teacher salaries.  That means Hawaii public school kids will spend 163 days in school compared to about 180 for most kids nationwide.

Eighty-one percent of all teachers approved the deal, which leaves “teacher vacation, nine paid holidays and six teacher planning days … untouched.”  Teacher benefits, including pension and health benefits also remain unchanged. In addition, “[t]he new agreement also guarantees no layoffs for two years and postpones the implementation of random drug testing for teachers.”

So, teachers work 9.4% fewer days for 8% less pay, full benefits and two more years of guaranteed employment.  It’s not a bad deal… as long as you are a teacher.  Kids will be shortchanged, parents have to scramble for daycare, and the state gives away more than it gets in savings.

The only risk for the teacher union in doing this is that we might discover that student achievement is unaffected by 17 fewer days of school.  If that’s the case why not cut 34 days of school for 16% less pay?  Or maybe get rid of it altogether.

Last updated October 21, 2009