Hawaiian-speaking teacher shortage
According to the Hawaii State Teachers Association, the dearth of teachers who speak Hawaiian is a "crisis."
Currently, roughly 43% of Hawaiian language immersion teaching positions are filled with teachers who do not speak Hawaiian fluently.
"So much students and so much families are interested in enrolling students in Hawaiian immersion, at the same time we don’t have enough classrooms and we don’t have enough teachers," said Kaui Spitalsky, language immersion teacher at Lahainaluna High on Maui.
Corey Rosenlee, HSTA President, says the Hawaiian language immersion teacher role is the most difficult position to fill because a proper license requires post-graduate education.
"They have to be a licensed teacher and they have to be fluent in Hawaiian. Trying to find people with both of those skills is extremely difficult," Rosenlee explained.
He further identifies the problem, saying there is a statewide teacher shortage, not only for Hawaiian language immersion teachers. This leads to college graduates taking the readily-available teaching jobs instead of furthering their education and becoming licensed to teach Hawaiian language immersion.
"The only way to get a license in teaching and in Hawaiian immersion is actually a post-baccalaureate or a masters program," Rosenlee said.
Going forward, Rosenlee says a solution would be to incentivize candidates financially with a pay differential for Hawaiian language immersion teachers.
Additionally, he expects The University of Hawaii at Manoa plan to roll out a Hawaiian immersion bachelor's degree to aid the need for potential teachers to attend post-graduate education.