State lawmakers read to pre-schools in support of early learning

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - By Jade Storms

State Representative Roy Tamuki showed his support early Tuesday morning at the Keiki Care Center in Pearl City in hopes of enforcing the School Readiness Act, which would allow the future children of Hawaii to attend preschool regardless of expenses.

More than a dozen state lawmakers signed up to participate in this event coordinated by the Good Beginners Alliance to bring legislators into their district preschools.

Deborah Zysman is the Executive Director for Good Beginnings Alliance and said they also collaborated with Read to Me International as well as the Rotary Club of Honolulu.

"We're proud to sponsor because we have bills moving at the legislator right now for school readiness programs to make sure that all of our kids get the early learning services that they need and that families need, and that they are ready and prepared to start kindergarten," Zysman said. "So what we're doing is bringing lawmakers out to schools and having them read two great books to some of our kids so that they can see first hand what's really happening in the community and how pre-schools actually work."

The books, "Goodnight Moon" and "My Lucky Day," were donated to the project by Read to Me International and by the Rotary Club of Honolulu.

Representative Roy Takumi stated that he has been working on this bill for the past ten years, and is more hopeful than ever this year.

"There are a number of bills in the legislator now that would establish a subsidized preschool system for the state of Hawaii," Rep. Takumi said. "We're one of the 11 states that doesn't have such a program and even the president understands, as you can hear in his state address. So we're very optimistic that this is the year we'll get something done."

Zysman also mentioned the potential sequestration act which could go into effect on Friday, and while it wouldn't dramatically affect the bill, it would mean major cuts to many services including Head Start and many families losing jobs.

"We may need more options in place for quality child care, and the President just mentioned in his state of the union that he would like to start a national preschool program in the next few years," Zysman said. "What he's laid out is he wants all kids getting preschool before they start kindergarten, and it very much mirrors our goal. The way he's laid out that plan is that it would be a partnership with matching from the states. Right now, 39 states have some kind of preschool program, and Hawaii does not. So we know if we do not get a program in place we won't be able to tap any of those federal dollars that might be coming out nationally in the next couple years so it's an interesting time right now."

The bill is slated for a senate budget hearing tomorrow at the State Senate. If approved, it will cross over to the house for further hearings and is expected to go into effect in 2014 or 2015.

Cheryl Cudiamat is the owner and Director of the Keiki Care Center in Pearl City, and said that she couldn't feel more honored to be chosen as a preschool for Rep. Takumi and Good Beginnings Alliance to come and showcase this event. Cudiamat also emphasized on the importance of preschool for young children.

"Preschool should really be for keiki to learn the social aspect. How to make friends, how to share, how to be able to solve problems, all the social aspects that I believe will help them form that positive foundation to have that self confidence in themselves and thusly will be able to have a successful path in anything that they do in the future," Cudiamat said. "So number one is the social aspect and learning through play. That's what we believe preschool should be all about."

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