“My second child was in preschool and we got a little bit of financial aid for that and when he was coming out, we applied my third child and we were denied. We didn’t get any financial aid, and at that time, we weren’t able to afford the full tuition. So we decided to keep her out for a few months until we were stable enough to be able to pay for her,” says Charla Ching, a parent at Kamehameha Schools Preschools in Nānākuli.
While Charla’s children are among the few hundred students who get accepted into Kamehameha Schools’ preschools each year, there are still seventeen thousand five hundred eligible preschoolers throughout Hawaiʻi. Children of Hawaiian decent make up about fifteen percent of this number and Kamehameha Schools is joining in on the effort to get all of Hawaiʻi’s children the education that they deserve by supporting the Yes on Four Campaign.
“Kamehameha Schools has put a half a million dollars toward this effort, and we’re not benefitting from it financially at all. It’s just to help all children and I am just so proud that I work for an organization that is as passionate for early childhood as I am,” says Kaila Lui Kwan, who is the Kamehameha Schools’ Education Coordinator. “It’s an opportunity for all children to attend preschool, cause currently not everyone can attend preschool, it’s financially challenging for them. Most of it is the families who can afford the eight-hundred, seven-hundred dollar tuition fee a month, and the other half that gets subsidies, but what about the others?”
Hawaiʻi is one of the remaining ten states in the U.S. that has yet to adopt the idea of supporting private preschools through state and outside funding. The Yes on Four Campaign aims to further the conversation of bring that opportunity to Hawaiʻiʻs youth.
This is a conversation that Senator Jill Tokuda is helping to facilitate with her support. “That’s what “Yes on 4” is about, it’s about that opportunity, it’s about that access, it’s about creating these win-wins for all of us. And I really appreciate that so many have stepped up and become champions for our keiki.”
“If you want to change the school system in Hawaiʻi and improve things, the single, one thing that we can do that would be the best would be to have children entering Kindergarten all on a leveled playing field, all had attended preschool, and all are ready to succeed and learn,” says Keith Vieira, who is the Principal for his own company, KV & associates Hospitality Consulting, LLC. Senator Tokuda couldn’t agree more.
“It’s about making sure that they can make the most of those experiences and reach those pivotal benchmarks every step of the way. Not just third grade, but also make sure that they’re ready at every single level. And when they leave our classroom doors into the workforce, and into the world, prepared to make the most to have a good quality of life, be able to get those good jobs, stay here in Hawaiʻi, have a good living, all of those things. We know that the return on investments is significant.”
Vieira continues in saying that, “Hawaiʻi’s based-economy being tourism also being service industry requires that we promote from within on our local population. We have to have our kids be the leaders in these industries. And in order to do that, you’ve had to have had the education, you’ve had to have had the leveled playing field.”
“I think, looking at this campaign and seeing the breadth of partners that we have- we have Kamehameha Schools, we have industry partners, we have business at the table, we have parents, we have so many different supporters. It really just shows that this is something that Hawaiʻi is standing up and saying that we really do believe it is important for our youngest of children to be ready to learn,” says Senator Tokuda.
“I see the value for our children to attend preschool, so I would definitely support yes. I would definitely encourage you to vote yes,” says Ching.
Vote Yes on Four at this upcoming November’s election and support the push to get more of Hawaiʻi’s children into preschool seats as leaders for our tomorrow. Remember that a blank vote is no vote! For more information, visit yeson4hi.org.