FACE values and supports early childhood education. We want our members and all the families in Hawaii to have universal access to high quality, developmentally appropriate preschool, but approving public money for private schools is not the right path.
Why are we concerned about this issue?
We are concerned about access and equity.
The constitutional amendment does not bring equity and access to early childhood education for those who cannot afford to attend private preschools, those who live in rural areas, or those who lack transportation to urban or suburban areas. In many rural areas there are public schools but few private preschools. This year, the state is piloting a pre-kindergarten program at 18 public schools serving about 420 low-income children.
We don’t have all the details on implementation or cost. Most of the details will be worked out through the legislative process. The legislature did not pass the bill in the 2014 session to implement a program if the ballot measure passes. The legislative process is slow so it will take time to implement preschools for 4 year olds. Many students would lose out through this slow process.
Most private preschools presently have a waiting list. Will public funds be used to expand and/or build private preschools? It would take to time to develop a system as well as open new preschools. For example, FACE member Karen Ginoza needed 3 years and $100,000 to start a brand-new preschool.
Public schools already have space available. They previously accommodated more than 5000 children a year in Jr. Kindergarten. Jr. Kindergarten was eliminated this year, leaving many families without options for preschool. Had the funding been transferred to DOE preschools, which would not have required a constitutional amendment, late born four year olds would be attending preschool this year. Public money should be spent on improving and expanding the facilities of public preschools, not private preschools.
The case for expanding and funding public (DOE) preschools:
Public schools are in all communities. They are accessible to all students. Many rural areas have few private preschools. Public schools accept all students in their community, regardless of their abilities, circumstances or wealth.
Public schools have licensed teachers. Private preschools are not required to hire licensed teachers and they pay their teachers up to $20,000 per year less than public school teachers. Public schools value the professionalism of teachers with pay commensurate with their education and experience.
Why is this ballot issue important to our members? How does it impact church preschools?
FACE is a faith based organization representing a diverse group of churches and families of all ages. Some of the preschools in our churches are privately run, such as Kamaaina Kids, where no religion is taught during the school day, but others are religiously based. If a church preschool decides to accept public funds there would be unintended consequences: no prayers, no chapel, no hymns, no celebration of church holidays. If church preschools choose not to accept public money, their enrollment may drop as parents choose a less expensive option.
So what can I do about it?
Share this fact sheet with your family, friends and neighbors by emailing this post. Or download this fact sheet in Microsoft Word format here.
Let them know that our state constitution does not need to be amended to support easily accessible high quality preschool for 4 year olds in the public school system.
Read, share, and comment on the op-ed on the issue that was printed in the Civil Beat: Campaign Corner: No on Ballot Measure 4
Vote “No” on the ballot measure number 4 to amend the constitution.