September 21, 2015

Schatz, Hirono, Gabbard Call for Continued Funding For Preschool Programs In Hawaii

Today, U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i) and U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) issued statements calling for continued funding for the Preschool Development Grants Program.  

“Too many children in Hawaii will enter kindergarten without having the benefit of a preschool education,” said Senator Brian Schatz. “As a result, these children will miss out on the preparation they need to be ready for school and for lifelong success.  The Preschool Development Grant has helped Hawaii expand access to high-quality preschool for hundreds of children who would otherwise miss out on the well-documented benefits of early education. Funding for this grant will run out year next which would stop the progress that has been made all across our state.  For these reasons, I will be fighting to secure continued funding for Hawaii's Preschool Development Grant during the upcoming budget negotiations.  Without full funding in the next budget, we can expect more children to enter school unprepared and without the basic skills needed to succeed.  We must not allow this to happen.”

“Quality early learning gives children from all backgrounds a foundation to start kindergarten on track, and prepare for success in school and in life,” said Senator Mazie K. Hirono. “More than seven hundred Hawaii preschoolers and their families would lose out if we do not restore funding to the Preschool Development Grants program. This is unacceptable, and that’s why I join my colleagues in calling  for continued funding to this vital program. We need to do more to make sure all Hawaii kids start kindergarten ready to learn.”

“These grants help schools all across the state, like Ke Kula o Nawahiokalaniopuu Iki, as they work to expand high-quality, culturally-appropriate early education,” said Representative Tulsi Gabbard. “By investing in early education, we are ensuring our keiki have access to the strong foundation and basic building blocks they need to start off their education on the right track.

Earlier today, White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Executive Director Kiran Ahuja visited the Ke Kula o Nawahiokalaniopuu Iki Public Charter School on Hawaii Island to observe and learn more about the school’s P?nana Leo infant toddler and preschool Hawaiian language early learning program that is using funding from a Preschool Development Grant. 

Hawaii was awarded a $2 million Preschool Development Grant this year as part of their 4-year $15 million plan to develop a state preschool system and provide high-quality preschool for children from families at our below the 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Line. The state has plans to provide high-quality preschool throughout the state for about 900 children from low-income families by the end of 2018, if funding is not cut.

Earlier this year, the House and Senate authored spending bills that would eliminate the Preschool Development Grants, cutting off funding for the last two years of the grant and jeopardizing plans to expand preschool programs in Hawaii and across the country.

Hawaii’s planned preschool system includes service to the following high-need school communities:

·                 Kanu o ka Aina New Century Public Charter School

·                 Volcano School of Arts & Sciences Public Charter School

·                 Na Wai Ola Public Charter School

·                 Ke Kula O Nawahiokalaniopuu Iki Laboratory Public Charter School

·                 Hawaii Academy of Arts & Science Public Charter School

·                 Kua O Ka La New Century Public Charter School

·                 Innovations Public Charter School

·                 Kona Pacific Public Charter School

·                 Laup?hoehoe Community Public Charter School

·                 Ka Umeke Kaeo Public Charter School

·                 Connections Public Charter School

·                 Kanuikapono Public Charter School

·                 Ke Kula Niihau O Kekaha Learning Center

·                 Kihei Charter School

·                 Kualapuu School Public Conversion Charter

·                 Ke Kula O Samuel M. Kamakau Laboratory Public Charter School

·                 Malama Honua Learning Center

·                 Kamaile Academy Public Charter School

The Department of Education’s Preschool Development Grants competition supports states to build or enhance a preschool program infrastructure that would enable the delivery of high-quality preschool services to children, and expand high-quality preschool programs in targeted communities that would serve as models for expanding preschool to all 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families.