As a father of two young children, one of my greatest priorities is providing them with an education for a solid future. Early education is critical to providing our keiki the start they need to access that future.
Having seen firsthand the benefits my son gained from Keiki ‘o ka ‘Āina’s early childhood programs at Kāne‘ohe Playground, Rainbow Schools Kāne‘ohe, and Pūnana Leo o Ko‘olau Poko, I’m a firm believer that the earlier our children engage in the education process, the better.
Hawai‘i is 1 of only 10 states that does not provide a state-funded preschool program for all children. Middle class families are hard-pressed to qualify for financial aid and support to send their children to preschools, where the average yearly tuition is over $8,000. I want to ensure that our state steps up to the plate and supports working families in providing early education for our youngest citizens.
In addition, our middle schools and high schools can be robust places of learning for the youth of Kāne‘ohe by providing them with opportunities to expand their learning beyond the traditional four walls of the classroom. Through great efforts like the Castle Complex Redesign, our community can be a model for the rest of the state and the country, rethinking the way our public schools operate and teach. To better prepare our youth for the skilled jobs ahead of them, we need to encourage partnerships between schools and local community partners and businesses who can give kids the practical learning experiences and exposure they need to be successful.
We must make great programs like these a top priority in our state. The future of our children and families depend on it.