Hawaii's keiki help push for early education

Published  9:54 AM HST Mar 21, 2012
Keiki Take a Stand at The State Capitol
HONOLULU -

Supporters of two new bills in the state legislature gathered at the capitol on Tuesday, concerned about the future of Hawaii's early education system.

Hundreds of supporters in favor for change said less than half of Hawaii's public school kindergartners attend preschool, leaving many keiki entering the classroom unprepared.

Keiki from preschools across O'ahu sang and spoke on behalf of future keiki.

The state's youngest citizens put their best foot forward in support of early learning.

"It helps a keiki grown to know about the future and to know what's their right, and education is their right," said Jason Weatherholtc, preschool parent.

Hawaii is one of ten states without state-funded early education. Two bills in the legislature propose a system where tax monies go back to the keiki.

"You or I will be able to check off a box that says I will give 25 dollars of my refund to early learning, and that begins the funding of an early learning system," said Dee Jay Mailer, Kamehameha Schools.

Mother of four and Keiki O Ka Aina teacher TJ Joseph said investing in the younger generation has a ripple effect.

"Hopefully the state can know that having the monies to fund these programs helps the family get off to the right start as well," Joseph said.

Many families said they struggle with preschool tuition payments. The proposed early learning system will be able to fund early education in all public schools.

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