- The average salary for teachers in Hawaii was $56,049 in 2017.
- But the cost of living in Hawaii is up to two-thirds higher than the rest of the United States.
- Corey Rosenlee, the president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, said the number of teachers leaving the profession in the state is up 84% since 2010.
Hawaii teachers have the lowest annual salary based on cost of living in the US, making it the least teacher-friendly state in the country, a new study reports.
The average salary for teachers in Hawaii was $56,049 in 2017, $2,731 less than the national average of $58,780, according to the National Education Association.
And the cost of living in Hawaii is up to two-thirds higher than the rest of the country because the state needs to import everything to the islands by sea or plane.
Expatistan, a website that works out how costly it is to live in cities around the world, estimates that monthly rent for a 900 square-foot apartment in Honolulu would put a person back $2,068, a basic dinner would cost on average $54.
The high cost of living is forcing many teachers to head to the mainland
Corey Rosenlee, the president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA), told the Associated Press last month that the number of teachers leaving the profession is up 84% since 2010.
The study that ruled Hawaii as the least teacher-friendly state was published by WalletHub last month. It also noted that the archipelago had the nation’s lowest percentage of teachers who feel supported by their administrators. Just 39% reported a positive teacher-administrator relationship.
And as in other states, some teachers have had to pick up second jobs to pay their bills.
Shaun Kamida, a social studies and agriculture teacher at McKinley High School in Honolulu, works about 23 hours a week at in the produce department of a grocery store on top of his teaching job.
“Probably the longest time I have off is between Saturday and Sunday when I’m just working the supermarket job,” Kamida told INSIDER of his schedule.
On some weekdays, Kamida leaves school at 5:30 p.m. to work at the supermarket, where he’ll stay until around 11:15 p.m. On weekends, he works either from 2:45 p.m. or 4:45 p.m. until close.
He uses the extra money to supplement his teaching income and fund clubs he runs at school, including the mock trial club and the Future Farmers of America club.
While there’s been an influx of money into the area, schools aren’t seeing much of it
Kamida is one of many teachers in Hawaii who took part in demonstrations this fall asking the local government for better funding in schools.
He said the community around his school, downtown Honolulu, has changed in recent years, with multi-million dollar condos being built and more affluent people moving in.
Kamida said many people who are new to the area would rather their tax money go elsewhere rather than public education.
“It’s kind of disheartening that it feels that’s the way the community and local government want to go,” he told INSIDER. “They want to support these multi-million dollar condos rather than a school that has been here for over 100 years.”
A Constitutional Amendment proposal that would impose a surcharge on residential investment properties to fund public education was knocked off the midterms election ballot at the last minute after Hawaii’s state Supreme Court said its wording was confusing.
Teachers had been pushing for the surcharge proposal to be approved ahead of the election. The surcharge would not have applied to owner-occupants, but would be aimed at investment properties worth more than $1 million, according to Hawaii News Now.
“We are disappointed with the Supreme Court ruling and extremely grateful to thousands of teachers, parents and public school supporters who worked so hard to campaign for the Con Am. This has been a multi-year fight to fund our schools and get the constitutional amendment proposal on the ballot,” said HSTA’s Rosenlee in a statement.
He added: “While we are sad about the ruling, there is still an urgent need that students have a qualified teacher and sufficient school funding to provide our keiki [children] with the learning environment they deserve.”
For now, the Hawaii State Department of Education is working with the teachers association to compile data and policy considerations for public schools.
The data will be shared with the Board of Education, legislators, unions, businesses and community members and will available for an in-depth study next spring, the Associated Press reported.
In WalletHub’s study from last month, Hawaii ranked high for teacher tenure protections, teacher union strength, and robust teacher rating system, despite being the least teacher-friendly state.
WalletHub determined rankings by comparing all 50 states and the District of Columbia on “opportunity and competition” and “academic and work environment.”
New York was ranked the best state for teachers, followed by Connecticut, Minnesota, Illinois, and North Dakota.
For more on the state of America’s teachers, click here.