Candidates Agree On Early Childhood Issues

(KHNL) - More money for teachers. More time for new moms.

Those are some of the hot topics political candidates talked about in forum Saturday, in front of hundreds of teachers, faculty, and other educators.

It was a chance for candidates to stand apart on early childhood issues, but many of them sounded the same.

All the candidates said early childhood education is a priority in their campaign.

"It's so very important that we have very qualified people at the head of the classrooms," said Bob Hogue, (R) candidate for the U.S. House. "We have good facilities, and we have positive learning environments."

"The Iwase Solomon campaign is very committed to education at all levels -- preschool, lower education, higher education, post graduate education," said Malama Solomon, Hawaii's Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.

Another point agreed upon -- the fact that teachers are underpaid.

"We are spending over $200 million every single day on the war in Iraq," said Mazie Hirono, (D) candidate for U.S. House. "That money could be used for so many needs that we have, including paying teachers."

"Early childhood education picks up our youngsters at the key age at the very beginning," said Cynthia Theilen, (R) candidate for U.S. Senate. "That deserves substantial pay and substantial recognition."

One unique opinion was more maternity time for new mothers.

"In other countries, they don't do it that way," said Renee Ing, (G) lieutenant governor candidate. "They let the mothers stay home for a longer time. It would be great if all mothers could stay home for a year, at the very least."

"I would hope that their promises are more than promises," said Fred Burkett, a school principal. "They have good intentions and they plan to really follow through on many of the things that they've said."

All of the candidates for U.S. House, Senate, and Hawaii's governor's race were invited to the forum. However, Senator Dan Akaka and Governor Linda Lingle did not attend. The senator is on the mainland, and the governor had a previously scheduled engagement.