early childhood education

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Funding for seven public pre-K classes were cut to help cover the state’s approximately $2.3 billion budget shortfall due to COVID-19.

Wayne Yoshioka/HPR

State lawmakers have recognized the need for affordable child care in the state, so much so that they’ve made it a part of a joint-legislative package negotiated by the governor and House and Senate leaders.

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Early education. It’s one of several priorities identified by lawmakers and business leaders this year. They are mounting an ambitious plan to expand access by identifying facilities across the state to house pre-school programs.While many may agree early education is important -- over the past decade there hasn’t been agreement on how to fund it, and who should take the lead. The Department of Education? The Department of Human Services? Should Pre-K classes be in public schools? Should taxpayers help subsidize private programs? Headstart, Preschool Open Doors, Executive Office of Early Learning and now Learning to Grow. All programs meant to provide access to those who can least afford quality childcare programs. What do you think? What’s been your experience?  In studio guests discussing early education:

  • Terry George is President and CEO of Harold K. L. Castle Foundation. He’s with the Hawaii Executive Collaborative. It’s a group of local leaders looking at ways to tackle issues like education, affordable housing, health and the environment.  
  • Deborah Zysman, executive director of the Hawaii Children’s Action Network, a nonprofit that advocates for children’s issues. It supports public policies that help children and their families.

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Among the 43 states that have a publicly funded preschool program, Hawaii ranks last with less than 5% of 4-year-olds enrolled. That's according to a 2017 report from the National Institute for Early Education Research. On Wednesday, Governor David Ige signed a plan that aims to expand access to public pre-k.