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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
A new poll reveals Hawaii residents support state-subsidized preschool.
Commissioned by the Good Beginnings Alliance and administered by QMark Research, 82 percent of responders said preschool should be free or subsidized. The same percentage also supports state-funded preschool and 51 percent strongly support it.
400 registered voters in the 2012 General Election were interviewed from June 21-July 7 for the data.
Good Beginnings Alliance Executive Director Deborah Zysman is using the data to look into the future.
"We will be pushing again this year for additional funding for early education because we know the public is really supportive," Zysman said.
PARALLELS WITH GOV. ABERCROMBIE
Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed into law SB 1093 earlier this summer that calls for a Preschool Open Doors Program that targets low-to-moderate income families. Part of the bill allows $6.4 million dollars of state money to be used to subsidized 900 children to attend preschool for the 2014-15 fiscal year.
"We knew that the public was in support of early childhood learning and the numbers do speak for itself," State Sen. Jill Tokuda said. "People really do want us to put our money towards investing in our youngest of keiki - to make sure…that when they walk through those kindergarten doors that they're going to be ready to learn and ready to succeed."
"Many parents are priced out of preschool," State Rep. Takashi Ohno said. "I think my job is we want to help mom and dad gain quality access to preschool. We want to help their kids - have the opportunity to start school on day one just like their affluent peers - ready to go and ready for a productive future."
AMENDMENT TO CONSTITUTION?
Part of the poll also asked votes about their support for a possible Constitutional Amendment. This was approved by the Hawaii Legislature and will appear on the 2014 General Election ballot.
The question reads: "Shall the appropriation of public funds be permitted for the support or benefit of private early childhood education programs that shall not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex or ancestry, as provided by law?"
The poll reads that 52 percent were in favor of amending the Constitution, 43 percent said "no" and 5 percent did not know or refused to answer.
In 2014, if the majority rules in favor, then it would allow families to use state funding to pay for privately-owned preschool.
"The problem that people seem to have is the word 'private,'" Zysman said. "People think, 'oh private school - I don't know that I want public dollars going for that.' But when we start saying 'well what we mean is the existing community preschools.' They go 'well I like that.'
"We're going to have to work on the education of the community to make sure that's what they understand."