Teachers fight back, Aikea Hawaii shows support for teachers at HSTA Rally


By Kiana Caranto
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One of the main purposes of the rally was to show appreciation for teachers through signs and speeches.
One of the main purposes of the rally was to show appreciation for teachers through signs and speeches.

In an attempt to get teachers an improved contract and give them better conditions in and out of the classroom, students and teachers part of an organization called Aikea Hawaii spoke out at the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) Rally held at the State Capitol on March 14.

“The purpose of the rally was to mobilize teachers and to show that we are united and that we have common interests and common goals and that we’re willing to stand up for those,” explained Social Studies teacher Amy Perruso, an Aikea Hawaii member who spoke at the rally.

Aikea Hawaii, who was asked by HSTA to speak, is an umbrella organization whose goal is to bring the aspect of community back to Hawaii and help solve issues to improve the future. “Basically we’ve created a new social and political movement, one that embraces our diversity and promotes justice,” said Aikea Hawaii representative Allison Lum, “We believe that students and teachers should have a voice and so that’s why we were there.”

Public school teachers face many issues that make it harder for them to do their job. “Everybody who works in public schools faces a lack of resources. There’s negative resource allocation so we struggle to do more,” said Perruso. Aikea Hawaii member Senior Lisa Grandinetti, who also spoke at the rally, added, “(Governor Neil) Abercrombie hasn’t really let up because he keeps giving them unfair conditions.”

The rally’s main purpose was to express appreciation for teachers which was shown through the speeches given. “What I was aiming for, specifically, was that we’re constantly talking about how important teachers are, how much we love teachers, how important our futures are. We don’t actually look at the specifics of how teachers are being treated,” said Grandinetti.

At the rally there was debate about how teachers’ pay raises should be coordinated. “Fifty percent of the evaluation on which pay raises will be based will be linked to students’ scores of some sort,” said Perruso. Grandinetti added, “Which is also not fair because some teachers get (advanced placement) classes with kids who are obviously going to get good grades.”

One of the things Aikea Hawaii strives to do is tackle interconnected issues from a single approach. “If we care about our future then we’ve got to care about education, and if we care about education then we’ve got to care about the teachers and students,” stated Lum.

The event was a stepping stone for teachers everywhere, as they were also able to come to a conclusion about a tentative contract during the rally that provides pay increases, restoration of medical coverage and input on evaluation policies.