September 5, 2001
Contacts: Rep. Brian Schatz
Phone: 586-9425

Hawaii Legislator Proposes Long-Term Fix to Teacher Shortage

Teach for America, the national corps of outstanding and diverse recent college graduates that commit to a two-year teaching stint, may be another possible solution to Hawaii's teacher shortage. Since 1990, Teach for America has placed recent college graduates in different communities. Their passion and energy has made a direct contribution to many children's lives, as well as helping to alleviate teacher shortages in areas where recruitment and retention have been a challenge.

Corps members earn a regular, full-time teacher's salary and benefits paid by their school districts. After completing the two years of service, corps members also receive an education award of $4,725 per year that they can apply to pay back qualified student loans or use toward future education costs. The program also helps with transitional expenses when moving to a new area. More information on Teach for America can be found at

"This program has contributed tremendously to the improvement of the Los Angeles area school districts. I would like us to consider whether it is an option that will help Hawaii schools as well", says Representative Brian Schatz, a member of the House Education Committee, and a Majority Whip. According to Representative Schatz, "During their two years, corps members have a tremendous impact on children's lives. Teach for America alumni later bring their unique perspective and experience to every sector of their professional lives, and they remain life-long advocates for making an excellent education available to all children."

Representative Schatz will be working with Teach for America to establish a formal partnership, and will be introducing legislation to establish a partnership that would enable the organization to serve the Hawaii DOE. Schatz adds that there may be a need for some financial support for the nonprofit organization, and the DOE may have to re-examine its rules for certification. Schatz believes that in the long run, getting these recent college graduates on board may be a constructive way of addressing the immediate staffing shortage in Hawaii's schools.