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Hawaii governor offers roadmap for universal preschool

  • Gov. David Ige speaks during his state of the state address at the Hawaii State Capitol in Honolulu on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. Gov. David Ige wants to create universal public preschool in Hawaii by making elementary schools pre-kindergarten through fifth grade instead of the current kindergarten through grade six. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)

HONOLULU — Gov. David Ige on Tuesday laid out what he called a roadmap for creating universal public preschool in Hawaii over several decades.

The governor introduced his idea during his State of the State address at the Capitol, the first such speech of his second term.

The central part of the plan is to offer pre-kindergarten through fifth grade at elementary schools instead of the current kindergarten through grade six. Grade six would become part of middle schools.

The governor noted research shows early childhood education is critical for brain development. Children’s early years set the stage for how well they learn for the rest of their lives, he said.

“Yet in Hawaii, we have left that important task to others and only for families who can afford private preschool tuition,” Ige said. “It doesn’t have to be that way.”

Hawaii needs more than 300 public pre-kindergarten classrooms, he said. This is a long-term goal, but the state doesn’t have to wait to start until it has funding for all of it, he said.

Phasing-in public preschool will give the state the time to ensure that it has qualified preschool teachers to staff the classes, Ige said.

House Speaker Scott Saiki said after the speech that the House shares governor’s goal of establishing universal preschool.

But Majority Leader Della Au Belatti said it would cost the state $500 million to use existing space at schools for pre-kindergarten classes and expand other schools to accommodate the additional classes.

“This is going to be a long-term, huge impact to the budget,” Belatti said, noting money would be needed to pay for salaries and operations.

Senate Vice President Michelle Kidani, who is also chairwoman of the Senate education committee, said she thinks it’s a great idea. But she said there are only so many dollars to go around.

“All of us totally believe in early learning. It’s just a matter of how we cut up the pie to do this,” Kidani said.

Ige told reporters after his speech that his plan would focus on schools that already have space for the new classrooms.

The governor said he doesn’t have a figure for how much the entire plan would cost because it would depend on the situation at each school.

He said focusing on restructuring elementary schools would reduce the cost somewhat because most additional classrooms would be at middle schools rather than spread through every elementary school.

“Now obviously it’s a decades-long process. But if we don’t have a goal and we don’t have a vision, then we’ll never get there,” Ige said.

The governor also said in his speech that he would submit legislation to build condominiums on state land and allow people to purchase 99-year leases for the units. His proposal is similar to one from state Sen. Stanley Chang.

He also wants to remove the existing cap on the amount of hotel tax revenue the four counties receive from the state. Currently the counties split $103 million generated by the transient accommodations tax. But Ige says the counties should get a straight percentage of the revenue generated.

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Kalani English said senators in general support the idea, but a final decision would depend on the details.

Saiki expressed concern over how much revenue the state would lose from this proposal. He said the bottom line is “how do the numbers work out?”

  1. I saw a Vampire once January 22, 2019 3:05 pm Reply

    So David Ige is sticking to the issues on Education. I suppose he has a stance. What else was on the agenda?

  2. Charlie Chimknee January 23, 2019 10:37 am Reply

    Aloha Kakou,

    Educating our keiki and youth about all aspects of the human body would be an extremely important foundation for each young person’s understanding of life, health, and life’s longevity. Education and training covering topics from the start of life at Conception through the Senior Years of Aging by having 1 school class a day from Pre-K through Grade 12, emphasizing the study of the body’s cells, tissues, organs, and the body’s systems, i.e., functions; and how all of that is integrated by the body’s Master Organ, the Nervous System, would serve to produce great respect for ones own body, and self reliance maintaining and perpetuating, and restoring ones own health, and on preventive protection from sickness and even injuries. Our youth need to be taught the Concepts of Health early on in their lives.

    It would also serve the keiki (kids) and youth and future adults to be taught to avoid the causes of diseases, and actually learn to remove the known causes of diseases from their lives; leading to more knowledge of the now but little known in the general public, causes of the killer chronic and degenerative diseases like heart disease and cancer, etc.

    The “most popular” chronic, long term, killer diseases are the too many types of Cancers, the Heart Diseases, the Vascular diseases of Strokes, along with broken brain sickness of Alzheimer’s and Dementia, etc., and Obesity and it’s cousin Diabetes…there’s more.

    If you read the daily obituaries on Kauai alone, you will see a predominance of 2 of our Asian cultures living in their upper 80’s and upper 90’s and some over 100 years; while the other cultures too many are passing away too young in their 50’s and 60’s for the most part, even with apparent medical care.

    More and more, diet is being said by top researchers to be a part of greater life longevity for people, and that diet of these Kauai aged seniors relies more on former, less modern, diets of these immigrants from Asia where their rural families in their foreign countries are still eating traditional non packaged, un-refined and un-sugared foods. The subsequent younger generations of these, our immigrants living in America have turned to what American stores only make available today, which is mostly foods that are packaged, canned, refined, heavily sugared, and dosed with plenty petrochemical additives. All of the latter should be avoided for Health and Life Longevity and free of disease and sickness.

    Let us add the point that the petrochemical additives and dozens of the manufactured food-added-sugars of today are foreign substances to the body, (antigenic), and are a modern toxic exposure to the human race of today

    And since it has been only for about the last 100+ years these modern nutrition-less foods made in today’s food factories, compared to how long humans and our earthly predecessors have lived on earth with only foods provided by Mother Nature; well, as modern “food” has increased, so have the chronic long term degenerative diseases.

    “An Hour a Day” with appropriate education materials for the different age groups of students, in classes taught about the human body (we are even similar to many animals) for Pre-K through Grade 12, would do immensely more than “an APPLE a Day” would, in keeping the doctors away. After all, with so many sick people in America today the doctors are over worked, with many of them not looking so good themselves.

    55% of Americans take on average 4 prescription drugs a day, not including over the counter drugs, TV ads now emphasize that not only are adults on these drugs but now too are their children, all of which makes for a weaker nation.

    It appears those wanting to make America Great Again are forgetting the category of sickness and disease…which is creeping up in statistics to more and more sickness, disease, and drug treatments, year after decade after now century.

    Disease Care is mis-labeled as “Health Care”. And modern Health Care has truly become HELLth Care with too many new symptoms and diseases and fatal side effects coming from drug treatments. The Old Rut that “everyone deserves Universal Health Care”, Obama Care, Trump Care, whatever Care…the Truth of Reality is that people do not deserve any Medical Health Care at all, People by birthright deserve real HEALTH…and not need doctors, as doctors are for diseases something no one wants. People during their lives should not need to go to doctors, which no need of of doctors makes for and means a stronger nation.

    People on medical drugs are actually suffering FAKE HEALTH, even if their symptoms are less or appear to be gone, they’re not actually restored to health they are drugged into an absence of symptoms with is not health. If you are on medical drugs you have Fake Health; if you are on illegal drugs you are stupid.

    Prevent medical and illegal drugs…EDUCATE…and start early, Gov. Ige and his team have the right idea about early education. Let’s get them to include Human Body Education.



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