Thousands of teachers marched to the state Capitol building on Monday for a rally to call for better pay and working conditions.
The event was organized by the teachers union, and comes as the organization is pushing a controversial plan that would raise taxes to improve schools and teacher salaries.
The gathering is expected to be among the biggest ever organized by the Hawaii State Teachers Association, as it seeks to secure a new contract for Hawaii’s public school teachers.
The march kicked off about 10 a.m., from the Blaisdell Center to the state Capitol building. Two lanes of Beretania Street have been closed for the event.
HSTA says Hawaii teachers are paid the lowest in the nation, when the the state’s high cost of living is factored in. They also say the state spends the least of any state on school improvements.
The union is proposing to establish an added tax on high-cost residential investment properties, a change that would require a constitutional amendment. It also wants a surcharge on hotel rooms, timeshares and vacation rentals.
The union estimates the taxes could net about $500 million a year.
“Every day in Hawaii, 10,000 to 20,000 kids go to school and don’t have a qualified teacher,” HSTA President Corey Rosenlee has said. “That’s wrong. We’re robbing our future. We need to make sure that we give all of our keiki the schools they deserve.”
The proposal passed both the House and Senate Education Committees in the past week.
– Hawai’i News Now