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Governor signs scaled-down preschool funding bill

By Nanea Kalani

LAST UPDATED: 11:40 a.m. HST, Jun 24, 2013

The state will help pay for about 1,000 children to attend preschool in 2014 under legislation Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed into law this morning establishing a statewide school readiness program.

Senate Bill 1093 will expand the existing Preschool Open Doors program under the state Department of Human Services with an additional $6 million for subsidies to low-income families and underserved or at-risk keiki.

“It’s a start. That’s all it is, is a start,” Abercrombie said at a news conference at Washington Place. “For the first time, the state will be codifying into law a commitment to preparing young children for success in school and in life.

The bill also requires providers to conduct school-readiness assessments and prepare children for school through either English or Hawaiian language.

Abercrombie’s original early-education plan would have served most of the 5,100 so-called late-borns who would have attended junior kindergarten at public schools next year. Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, students will need to be at least 5 years old by July 31 to enroll in public school kindergarten.

The state’s intent was to phase out junior kindergarten — launched in 2006 for late-born 4-year-olds — while rolling out a plan for publicly funded universal preschool. Hawaii is one of 11 states without state-funded preschool.

Abercrombie last year established the Executive Office on Early Learning to lead the effort in hopes of having a program in place for the 2014-15 school year.

But lawmakers this session scaled down or deferred the governor’s early-education initiatives. They did, however, agree to place a constitutional amendment on the 2014 ballot asking voters whether public money can be spent on private early-education programs.

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pcman wrote:
This equates to more spending to gain more votes. Freebies for votes. Preschool should be offered to everyone without costing any more taxes. How? By lowering Kindergarten to 4 years old and graduation from 12th grade at age 17. Simple as that. I really don't think preschool helps students to do better. But, if there is such a perception, then it should be offered to everyone. Parents may opt to have their children start later if they want.
on June 24,2013 | 11:46AM
MakaniKai wrote:
Excellent observation pcman. Sadly the option you speak of does not translate into the needed votes for freebies! So the taxpayers are once again paying for other people’s keiki outside of K-12. And, signed into law by someone who has never had to raise a child. Give parents a choice, start at four or five. Grad at 17 no big deal, worked out well for me. Success! It can be done. Aloha.
on June 24,2013 | 12:37PM
Anonymous wrote:
why only the low income - tax payer funding should be for all children - income independent -take care of the middle class - they pay the majority of the taxes. low income breeding programs should be set up to instill responsibility - others are always paying for their inability to provide the basic necessities...
on June 24,2013 | 01:06PM
8082062424 wrote:
ill bet our local kids are last to get in the will put immigrant kids in first
on June 24,2013 | 02:26PM
Mediocrates wrote:
Nope, it is actually much much less spending. They cut pre-k and instead required people to go to preschool without giving them adequate support. They are cutting education and calling it an advancement of preschool. What a lie, what joke. Shame on them.
on June 24,2013 | 03:16PM
allie wrote:
please help the children. We will all benefit!
on June 24,2013 | 11:57AM
Kawipoo wrote:
It is the parent's responsibility to prepare them for kindergarten. If they don't have time to spend with their kids don't have them. Why do we have to pay for irresponsible parents?
on June 24,2013 | 12:00PM
Mediocrates wrote:
you don't know what you are even talking about with this item. For starters providing public education is central to our State constitution.
on June 24,2013 | 03:19PM
Kawipoo wrote:
The state constitution refers to K-12 low IQ rock dweller.
on June 24,2013 | 05:08PM
Mediocrates wrote:
how about help their mom and dad pay for this s!@#$. It will now cost every single family about $8,000 more for every kid born after June 31.
on June 24,2013 | 03:18PM
Fred01 wrote:
Nanny State.
on June 24,2013 | 12:03PM
2_centz wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on June 24,2013 | 12:40PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Kamehameha Schools, with its 31 preschools, are helping out.
on June 24,2013 | 01:13PM
Mediocrates wrote:
I'd be glad to sue, if I have a case. Sign me up!
on June 24,2013 | 03:20PM
jpo wrote:
Wow - can we get more children in the picture? Hope by now we all now see a ruse being played out here.
on June 24,2013 | 12:47PM
loquaciousone wrote:
Doesn't SA have any professional photographers left? That photo looks like it was taken with a cheap point and shoot camera.
on June 24,2013 | 01:40PM
64hoo wrote:
stupid bill, now I got to pay taxes for babaysitting some one elses little brats.
on June 24,2013 | 04:59PM
MexMe wrote:
If I could allocate what I pay in state taxes to one area of need, this would be it (as well as UH). Education is the only way citizens will move ahead and break the cycle of dependency and poverty. Preschool (and all schools) should also reach out to include parents in being partners in their child's education. Every parent may not know how to assist their child academically or may not have the time/resources to do so. How can anyone begrudge a child of the basic right to a free and solid education?
on June 25,2013 | 08:12AM
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