We at the Foundation have been warning lawmakers for several years now that our state has been losing people. News media and some local nonprofits have been trying to find out why. The people leaving have said that they are unable to make ends meet here between the high cost of living and taxes.
We have told lawmakers that the tax environment here in Hawaii already has reached a point where people are “voting with their feet” and getting on a plane with a one-way ticket out of here.
You don’t believe that?
The Hawaii Board of Education had a special meeting on September 15, 2022, to consider strategic planning. Tammi Oyadomari-Chun, one of the three new deputy superintendents that have just started with the Department of Education, presented some very telling data to the Board of Education.
In the chart, the blue bars represent the loss (or gain) in student enrollment, by complex area, over the last five years. The green bars represent the projected loss (or gain) in student enrollment over the next five years. Not considering charter schools, enrollment dropped from 168,152 in 2018-19 to 156,518 in 2022-23, and it is projected to decrease further to 148,096 by 2027-28.
Source: Hawaii Department of Education.
Of those students who have left in the past five years, more than half said they were moving to another U.S. state. The second most mentioned reason was transferring to a private school, but that applied to about 15% of exits.
Kids are leaving Hawaii.
The data also looked at the reasons why teachers hired by our school system were leaving. Over the past five years, roughly half of the teacher resignations were because the teachers were leaving Hawaii.
Teachers are leaving Hawaii.
The evidence is piling up. Folks are heading for the exits. Is our State population sustainable? If we don’t do something to make Hawaii a better place to live, Hawaii residents may have something in common with the Hawaiian monk seal, nene goose, or green sea turtles: they’d be endangered species.