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Gov. Abercrombie advocates for statewide preschool

By Anita Hofschneider

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 03:58 p.m. HST, Jan 30, 2013

Children and educational advocates crowded a Hawaii Senate hearing on today to push for a statewide preschool program, something Gov. Neil Abercrombie has made a central issue for his administration this session. 

“This is my highest priority,” Abercrombie testified Wednesday at a hearing before the Senate Committee on Education.

The Senate Committee on Education approved creation of the program.

Senate Majority Leader Sam Slom, the sole Republican in Hawaii’s 25-member state Senate, was the only member to vote against it.

“To me, we’re not creating anything new,” Slom told the Associated Press. “We’re transferring funding that’s individual parents’ responsibility to taxpayers.”

Slom said the bill is the result of lobbying efforts from special interests including educational providers who will benefit financially from the program.

Funding isn’t the only issue. The bill bumps up against the Hawaii State Constitution, which prohibits public funding of private educational institutions.

The governor wants a state constitutional amendment to allow the state to partner with private educational providers to run the program.

The governor’s budget request includes more than $30 million to help pay for the program over the next two years.

Critics of the bill say that the state should focus on improving education for students grades K-12 before starting a new program.

House Majority Leader Scott Saiki says that he’s worried about the stress on the state budget.

“A cost item like this will only increase over time,” he said. He says the cost of the program could increase to more than $150 million per year.

Saiki says there are other alternatives to address the issue that cost less.

“We should start small and build upon it,” Saiki said.

Advocates for the bill stressed the importance of preschool to child development and potential society-wide impacts.

If passed, the program would replace the pre-kindergarten program that will end in 2014, immediately affecting more than 5,000 kids.

Abercrombie said more than 40 percent of Hawaii kindergarten students last year hadn’t attended preschool. 

He said the initiative is an investment in Hawaii’s future economy and social well-being.

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Maneki_Neko wrote:
Free laptops!

Free pre-school!

Free 650 foot tall apartment buildings!

Free development of State land!

Free! Free! Free!

Somebody tell Abercrombie that none of these are "free" and as a taxpayer, none of these are where I want my tax dollars to go.

on January 30,2013 | 03:01PM
Skyler wrote:
Thank you - saved me a lot of writing.
on January 30,2013 | 03:36PM
mcc wrote:
Free rail!
on January 30,2013 | 04:04PM
allie wrote:
Neil is right..most states have already done this. It is sillyt to say fix the k-12 first when it cannot be fixed until more children are ready for Kindergarten. All educators know that.
on January 30,2013 | 03:07PM
Skyler wrote:
How do you 'get ready' for kindergarten? You color in a book & learn to 'stay in the lines' (at home), learn to count to 10 (at home), learn your ABC's (at home), and learn how to spell your name (at home). None of those activities require money, unless you don't have crayons ($1 @ pricebusters). No need to dump $30 million of OUR dollars into PRE-kindergarten.
on January 30,2013 | 03:39PM
kauai wrote:
Disagree with you on this one. Spend more new monies and no doubt future increases in expenses on a new program when the existing system is wanting for satisfactory results? Unwise. It's like building this $6 billion rail when city streets are wanting for repaving. If ya' can't/won't maintain what you currently have, then you have no business creating more systems/projects that also won't be maintained properly. What part of common sense don't these politicians understand? Sheesh.
on January 30,2013 | 03:49PM
ISCREAM wrote:
allie....do you know that studies have shown that preschool does not make any difference in test scores or grades by the time you reach third grade...this is just state funded day care.
on January 30,2013 | 04:03PM
ISCREAM wrote:
So, what's not to love about preschool? Plenty, say critics. "Young children are better off at home," says Michael Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association. "We are in danger of overinstitutionalizing them. A child will develop naturally if the parents give the child what he or she needs most in the formative years -- plenty of love and attention. In this way, the brain can develop freely."
on January 30,2013 | 04:08PM
hawn wrote:
That's the problem, no parents at home so they need a baby sitter provided it's paid for by someone else.
on January 30,2013 | 05:25PM
mcc wrote:
It is not really the State's responsibility to baby sitl It is the parents!
on January 30,2013 | 04:05PM
ISCREAM wrote:
If we are going to have public preschools they should be co-op preschools ... requiring parent participation. Both parents and children would benefit.
on January 30,2013 | 04:10PM
inuulu wrote:
Just what he needs more teachers to ream.
on January 30,2013 | 05:25PM
sailfish1 wrote:
If parents can't provide for their children before kindergarten, they should not have children. Next thing you know, Abercrombie and the State will be providing funding for services to go to homes to change diapers and feed the children.
on January 30,2013 | 06:23PM
HOSSANA wrote:
on January 30,2013 | 07:42PM
HOSSANA wrote:
on January 30,2013 | 07:40PM
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