Teachers union gets a new president: meet Osa Tui

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — The teachers union has a new president who brings a different approach in leadership.

KHON2 News spoke to the former McKinley High School math teacher on his first day as the teacher union’s new president.

For Osa Tui, being involved with the Hawaii State Teachers Association is nothing new. He’s been the negotiations chairperson for the union, President of the Honolulu Chapter, and Vice President for the past 3 years under his predecessor Corey Rosenlee.

Rosenlee has served the maximum six years as union president and now hands over the reigns. You can expect leadership styles to be different.

“I’ll just say that I’m more of a listener than a talker, so we’ll see how that is going forward. But regardless, you know HSTA, we want to do everything we can to improve the experience for our keiki in the classroom and for our educators in their workplace,” said Tui.

One problem this former math teacher wants to help solve is the state’s severe teacher shortage crisis.

“What we really need to do is focus on recruiting teachers locally,” he explained. “We have to go into the schools, and let students know that this is a noble profession. We have to make sure that the salaries are something that’s going to attract and retain educators.”

When it comes to hiring a new superintendent, Tui also says getting someone local would probably be the best right now.

“I think at this point, everyone is saying that we need someone who knows our school system and what our needs are for our school system,” Tui says. “So that’s probably what we would want for our next superintendent.”

This year, students will be physically returning to school. Tui tells us that’s problematic because children under 12 don’t have access to vaccinations, and some parents may be worried about sending them back.

“So one of the problems this past year is that teachers had to juggle teaching students both online and in person simultaneously,” said Tui. “If we can have dedicated teachers to do online for students under 12 until they have access to vaccinations, and then those teachers who are in the classroom can then dedicate themselves to working with the students in the classrooms. I think that would be ideal.”

When asked about the new union president, Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto said this in a statement:

“The Department of Education looks forward to working with President Tui in a collaborative manner towards expanding our innovative instructional approaches and school designs for today’s haumana. His partnership and leadership will be vital as our schools prepare to return to full in-person learning in the fall.”

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