© 2023 Hawaiʻi Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Hawaiʻi is 1 of 10 states mulling cross-border rules to tackle teacher shortage

Hawaii Schools elementary students department of education
Jennifer Sinco Kelleher
FILE - Hand sanitizer is attached to a desk in a classroom at Aikahi Elementary School in Kailua, Hawaiʻi on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Jennifer Sinco Kelleher)

The national teacher shortage has prompted lawmakers in 10 states, including Hawaiʻi, to suggest legislation that would get rid of relicensing requirements for teachers when they move across state lines — an oftentimes cumbersome and costly process of waiting periods, licensing fees, and expensive exams.

Hawaiʻi House Education Chair Justin Woodson has introduced a measure that would allow the state to join the Interstate Teaching Mobility Compact.

The idea for a compact was first proposed by the U.S. Department of Defense and is designed, in part, to support military spouses. It would effectively allow teaching licenses to be viable across members of the compact, cutting through the current 50-state patchwork of disparate requirements.

Hawaiʻi's education committee is scheduled to hear the bill at 2 p.m. Thursday.

Nine other statehouses are considering joining the compact, including Colorado, Washington, Kansas, Georgia and Mississippi. For the compact to take effect, 10 states must approve it.

The national teacher shortage, exacerbated by deep losses during the pandemic, has left states scrambling to hire and retain educators. It's pushed school districts across the U.S. South to accept candidates without teaching certificates or formal training to staunch the losses.

Some worry the compact won't make a significant difference as long as teachers are underpaid in a state with sky-high housing costs.

Adam Diersing, a policy analyst for the Council of State Governments which is working with the Department of Defense in developing and spreading the compact, said “in past compacts we have not seen evidence that accessibility of a license is an impetus for somebody to move to a new state.”

Still, Diersing added that teachers move for a plethora of reasons, including caring for aging relatives or joining their military spouse, and that state licensing barriers can push them to leave the field altogether.

“This can be an effective tool to keep folks in the profession when they want to,” said Diersing.

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. Founded in 1846, AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.
Related Stories