Teachers support mandatory kindergarten

Studies show that early childhood education improves the chance of a child’s success.  Teachers support early childhood education and mandatory kindergarten because they know the impact it will have on student learning and eventual success for our students to graduate college or career ready.



What’s the impact on Hawaii public school students?

Hundreds of Hawaii teachers could lose jobs with Kindergarten change

Posted: Feb 28, 2014 8:27 PM HST
Updated: Feb 28, 2014 8:44 PM HST
By Tannya Joaquin

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow)

The fallout for Hawaii students and teachers this fall could be huge.

Thousands of students will not meet the new July 31st cutoff to start kindergarten and hundreds of jobs are at stake.

Schools are urging parents to enroll their children now so there’s not a last minute crisis.

Governor Neil Abercrombie signed the School Readiness bill into law last year with a smiley face.

The Union representing 13,500 teachers doesn’t think parents or preschools are ready for the pending school shake up.

HSTA President Wil Okabe said, “I know the Governor’s plan to only have 30 schools in the State to have preschool is not going to address all the rest of the other students.”

The Legislature approved 6.5 million dollars to pay for preschool for 900 students at 15 Oahu schools and 15 on the Neighbor Islands. Another 4,000 students will miss the new kindergarten cutoff.

As a result, the union says hundreds will lose their jobs.

“Close to 300 teachers” said Okabe.

Two concerned Principals we spoke with say they won’t know how big a hit their staff could take until the next school year starts. By then, parents caught off guard by the change will have to scramble to place their kids.

KCAA Preschools has been gearing up for a potential boost in enrollment.

However, HSTA’s President doesn’t think providers can pick up the slack. As Okabe explained, “They have waiting lists to get into. They would have to build facilities, hire teachers. We’re very concerned about this impact.”

Cost is another concern, with preschool tuition averaging $800 dollars a month. Right now, less than half of Hawaii children attend preschool.

HSTA believes that cutting Junior kindergarten and pushing back the birth date to enter kindergarten by 5 months will cause even more children to fall behind.

HSTA is pushing in this legislative session to make kindergarten mandatory. Okabe added, “If we’re truly saying early education is important, we need to make kindergarten mandatory in Hawaii.”