Survey supports more funds for public schools, but how to do it remains a question

Residents support more funding for special education in Hawaii

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There’s support for greater investment in Hawaii’s public schools, according to a new survey commissioned by HawaiiKidsCAN.

More than 80 percent of Hawaii’s $1.99 billion public school budget is funded by the state. The non-profit group said that the survey of 404 Hawaii voters showed 77 percent supported more funding for public education.

“What we don’t see though is how that should be done,” said state Board of Education Chairperson Catherine Payne. “That’s where the conversation needs to be.”

The survey also showed support for more diversity among public school principals, as well as higher pay for special education teachers.

“Whether it’s the special education problem that we’re having, or the growing teacher shortage crisis, I think that the public is understand this problem and is asking our elected leaders to take action to try to solve it,” said Hawaii State Teachers Association president Corey Rosenlee after looking at the survey results.

The survey also showed 75 percent saying its necessary to have a college diploma to be successful. It also said 57 percent believe parents should get to choice the public school their child attends. And 54 percent believe public schools prepare graduates to enter the workforce.

That last one means that about half of voters who have or had students in public schools say graduates aren’t prepared for life after high school.

HawaiiKidsCAN commissioned the survey to help guide lawmakers on how to spend taxpayer money.

“There’s only so much public funds to go around, but I think the question that’s been on our minds is how you make those strategic choices, and strategic choices that the community wants,” said HawaiiKidsCAN founding executive director David Miyashiro.

What the community wants, according to the survey, is for the state to prioritize solutions for homelessness, cited by 34 percent of those surveyed, and traffic, cited by 15 percent. Education came in third.

“I understand that those two are going to be top in people’s concerns,” said Payne. "But how we fix things in the long term is really education. Education is that long-term fix to almost everything.

The survey was prepared by Solutions Pacific and fielded by Ward Research, which conducted the poll via telephone. The margin of error is 4.9 percent.

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