The following editorial was originally published in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Sunday, October 7, 2018 as part of the "Raise Your Hand" column in the Insights section. Two students weigh in on the constitutional amendment question: “Shall the legislature be authorized to establish, as provided by law, a surcharge on investment real property to be used to support public education?
By: Jaxine Wong
Roosevelt High School, Class of 2021
The legislature is in a constant battle, like a person trying to fill a bucket with a hole, in trying to find ways to get more money to fund our public education. Using existing methods, namely income taxes, is not enough to support schools now. Putting an additional charge on property tax to support public schools will allow the funds to rise without an increase of poverty, and schools will be able to get supplies without having teachers use their own money. Existing measures are failing to better the people in public education.
One of the reasons why poverty is rapidly growing in Hawaii is the increase in taxes. Using property taxes, however, will allow those in poverty to not have to pay extra taxes. Unlike those with a higher income, people in low-income households more often do not own property. Thus, the additional charge will instead be instituted as a way to get the upper classes to support public education and guarantee its funding. If people with a higher income are displeased, then they can choose to not own so much property and let others have it instead.
Teachers not being paid enough has become a rampant grievance. In many cases, the diminished school budget causes several teachers to purchase their own materials with their meager personal salary. Compared to police officers, firefighters, or medical professionals, teachers may not seem as important, but should be paid more than what they make now. I believe that everyone has been overlooking the importance of educators. We forget that the teachers are essential for our kids to learn and become knowledgeable in life. Without them, children would probably have no way of securing a constant source of education. In addition to teaching foundational skills, like reading, writing, and mathematics, educators have a huge influence on the next generation because they serve as role models who can inspire students. Thus, we should pay our educators more because of so much that they do toward our future generation.
Providing education for our youth is a goal all over the world. Although, in reality, schools are without supplies or an environment conducive to learning. Most notably in Hawaii, there is a lack of air-conditioning which causes students to lose focus, be dehydrated, or feel fatigued. Thus, as a result of heat and sweat, they return to class completely exhausted. Additionally, throughout my entire life, I have been in public education and know many people, who are teachers. Countless of times I have been exposed to the phrase, “not enough school funds.” In elementary, teachers would ask us to bring our own paper towels, tissues and soap for our classrooms. In high school, they would end up having to get their own classroom supplies for students. On top of that, teachers would also buy needed school supplies for students who had no way of getting it. It is completely hypocritical for schools and those who govern them to emphasize how much they support their students and provide a safe environment, yet they continue to allow them to bear these conditions.
The effects of a lack of funding clearly constrain our youth. Why should we make our students suffer as a result of something that they have no control over? Putting a surcharge on property tax for the public education will be beneficial for the students and schools. Unlike other alternatives, it will not harm the majority of families who are crippled economically. Without taking a step to gaining money for public education, how can we ensure that our students are doing their best in school?