University of Hawai'i Introduces Plan For Teacher Education on the Neighbor Islands

University of Hawaiʻi
Posted: Jan 12, 2001

HONOLULU- In his speech to the joint House and Senate education committeestoday, University of Hawai'i President Kenneth P. Mortimer unveiled a planto implement teacher education programs on the neighbor islands in an effortto address the statewide teacher shortage. This plan was developed in responseto a request by the 2000 Legislature for the University of Hawai'i and theDepartment of Education to develop a ten-year plan "that ensures thecontinuous offering of teacher education for the neighbor islands..."

The teacher shortage in Hawai'i has reached a critical point and thistrend is expected to continue into the foreseeable future. The shortageof teachers is even greater on the neighbor islands where teacher preparationand professional development courses are not readily available.

The University of Hawai'i College of Education recognizes this need andhas developed an outreach plan to prepare new teachers for the neighborislands and to help retain existing neighbor island teachers by offeringteacher preparation and advancement programs in Maui County, Kaua'i andthe Big Island.

According to Randy Hitz, dean of the College of Education (COE), thedemand for new teachers on the neighbor islands exceeds supply by a considerableamount, thus resulting in a teacher shortage that is expected to last until2007. "By far, the best way to address the teacher shortage is toprepare people from the neighbor islands to become teachers," he said. "Often times, teachers recruited from the Mainland will remain inthe islands for only a short period of time. In fact, there is only a onein five chance that a Mainland teacher recruited to Maui County will remainin teaching in Maui County after three years. By contrast, a Maui Countyresident prepared to teach is much more likely to remain in teaching withinMaui County after three years. We have seen similar trends on the otherislands as well."

The goal of this outreach plan is to continuously offer teacher educationand advanced professional development programs for all of the neighbor islands. The COE will offer preparation programs in elementary, secondary and specialeducation as well as advanced professional development programs for existingteachers. The COE programs will run simultaneously and continuously withinin a cohort system (a cohort system allows students to enroll in the programsas a group and remain together until completion). New enrollments willtake place only after a cohort completes a program. It is anticipated that125 students will be enrolled at any given time.

Due to the fact that the other neighbor islands do not have populationbases sufficient to make a program economically feasible, the outreach planwill offer distance learning. As many of the classes as possible will beoffered via interactive video or computers, thus creating efficiency andminimizing the travel expenses associated with on-site classes. Programcoordinators who reside on each island will supervise the clinical experiences. Additionally, funds have been budgeted for students when on-site instructionis deemed necessary (ie. students in West Hawai'i will have travel supportto attend a class that is offered on Maui).

The outreach program will be launched with the Fall 2001 term with fullimplementation taking place over a period of four years. In addition tothe University of Hawai'i at Hilo, classes will be offered at Maui CommunityCollege, Hawai'i Community College and Kaua'i Community College.