Legislature ends Junior Kindergarten program, promises plan
Every child in Hawai'i deserves to start school safe, healthy, and ready to succeed—one reason why we launched the Be My Voice! Hawai'i campaign to ensure that every 4-year-old in the state has access to quality, early childhood education. It is the smartest investment we can make in Hawai'i’s future and, more importantly, it reflects the values of the people of this state. Our children come first.
The 2012 Legislative Session has ended and policy makers have passed SB2545, a bill that addresses some critical issues affecting early childhood education. The bill terminates the Junior Kindergarten (JK) program at the end of the 2013 school year. Since 1943, late-born 4-year-olds (born between Aug. 1 – Dec. 31) have been attending public school in Hawai'i. This bill takes this educational experience away beginning in the 2014-15 school year.
However, on a positive note, this bill also establishes an Executive Office of Early Learning, and has tasked it to develop a plan for preschool and early learning opportunities for all 4-year-old children. In his 2012 State of the State Address, Governor Abercrombie said: “Early childhood education must be the initial step on the education ladder … If they [children] are not our priority, then we no longer know the meaning of the word.”
We want to make sure that the state legislature and Governor's office continue to stay true to these words and make early education a top priority this year. And, we will do this with your help! Join us to advocate for a statewide early learning program that will serve all 4-year-olds, including the nearly 6,000 keiki each year, who will no longer have access to Junior Kindergarten.
Another legislative session has gone by and Hawai'i continues to be one of the few remaining states without state-funded preschool. As we head into the 2012 elections and the 2013 legislature, help us ensure that candidates and lawmakers know what it means to make children a priority. Log onto www.bemyvoicehawaii.org and join the campaign. You will receive important policy updates, invitations to events and the opportunity to communicate your ideas and needs to help inform the campaign.
Together, we will stand up for our children and ensure a better future for all!