'No' votes lead on Early Childhood Education initiative - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

'No' votes lead on Early Childhood Education initiative

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Early childhood education amendment supporters have to re-group after a disappointing defeat at the ballot box.

Good Beginnings Alliance President Deborah Zysman said in a statement, "Unfortunately, Hawaii remains the lone state in the nation where government is not able to contract with non-profit early education providers for quality early education."

The 'Yes on 4' campaign failed to convince the needed 50 percent plus one of voters, faced with strong opposition from the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

HSTA President Wil Okabe said, "It was a grassroots effort to get the message out that this was not going to help the most neediest families to vote yes on this particular constitutional amendment."

It's now up to the Legislature to decide whether the State will support pre-kindergarten funded and run solely by the Department of Education.

State Senator Jill Tokuda was a strong supporter as Education committee Chair and mother of a son in preschool.

Tokuda says the most obvious option is to expand the pilot program that funded 18 DOE preschool classrooms with 3 million dollars from the State.

The incoming Governor David Ige will have to get behind any new proposals to provide preschool for 4 year olds who currently start kindergarten without any schooling.

Right now, only 42 percent of Hawaii's 4 year olds attend preschool.

The majority of "yes" votes came in areas with the greatest need like Kalihi, Waimanalo, Waianae and the Neighbor Islands.

Supporters say the greatest victory is the universal agreement that early education is important.

The challenge now is how to implement and fund preschool.

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