Early education advocates rally at the capitol

No funding in the budget yet for early childhood education

Published  5:36 PM HST Mar 14, 2013

Early education advocates were doing what they could Thursday to drum up support for bills that give kids a better chance at learning.

"You think for every dollar invested in early childhood education is a $4.20 return on that investment," Kanoe naone, CEO of INPEACE.

More than 1,200 keiki and families and early childhood education organizations converged on the State Capitol to send a message:  two key measures establishing a statewide early childhood education program will be money well spent.

"It's money that's actually going to further our children instead of making them fall backwards," said Cyrus Young.

"I see the difference between children that have preschool experience and children that don't.  The children that have it, they're ready to go.  They're on the ball.  They're on key with what they need to know" said Keala Young.  "But those children that are unable to come out to our programs, they struggle."

Although the bills have the backing from state lawmakers, they have zero funding in the budget right now.

And the Hawaii State Teachers Association has strong concerns over one aspect calling for public funds to provide preschool financial help to needy families.

But, these proponents say this program can't wait.  Not what research shows the youngest years, zero to eight years, are critical for learning.

"If you want to look at the long term well-being and economic well-being of our state, then we really need to invest in early childhood education," said Naone.

Senate bills 1093 and 1095 have passed out of the House Education Committee and are scheduled to be heard in the House Finance Committee.

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