Hawaii State Funding for Private Early Childhood Education Programs, Amendment 4 (2014)

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Amendment 4
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Hawaii Constitution
Referred by:Hawaii Legislature
Status:On the ballot
2014 measures
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November 4
Amendment 1
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Amendment 4
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Local measures

The Hawaii State Funding for Private Early Childhood Education Programs, Amendment 4 is on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Hawaii as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The measure, upon voter approval, would allow the appropriation of public funds for private early childhood education programs.[1]

The amendment was sponsored in the Hawaii Legislature by State Senator Donna Mercado Kim (D-14) as Senate Bill 1084.[1]

In Hawaii, an amendment must win not just a majority of all votes cast on that particular proposal, but a majority of the vote of everyone voting in that election. This is known as a double majority.

Text of the measure

Ballot title

The official ballot text reads as follows:[1]

Shall the appropriation of public funds be permitted for the support or benefit of private early childhood education programs, as provided by law, to help the State meet its goal of providing an early learning system for the children of Hawaii?"[2]

Constitutional changes

The measure amends Section 1 of Article X of the Constitution of Hawaii to read:[3]

Section 1. The State shall provide for the establishment, support and control of a statewide system of public schools free from sectarian control, a state university, public libraries and such other educational institutions as may be deemed desirable, including physical facilities therefor. There shall be no discrimination in public educational institutions because of race, religion, sex or ancestry; nor shall public funds be appropriated for the support or benefit of any sectarian or nonsectarian private educational institution, except that public funds may be appropriated for the support or benefit of private early childhood education programs, subject to the non-discrimination provision above, as provided by law, and that proceeds of special purpose revenue bonds authorized or issued under section 12 of Article VII may be appropriated to finance or assist:
1. Not-for-profit corporations that provide early childhood education and care facilities serving the general public; and
2. Not-for-profit private nonsectarian and sectarian elementary schools, secondary schools, colleges and universities.[2]


Hawaii Yes on 4 2014.png

The organization leading the campaign in support of the amendment is Yes on 4 for Pre-K Keiki. The campaign organization is a project of Good Beginnings Alliance and Children's Action Network.[4]

The measure was introduced into the legislature by Sen. Donna Mercado Kim (D-14).[1]




  • Child & Family Service[6]
  • Hawaii Association for the Education of Young Children
  • Kamehameha Schools
  • Hawaii Business Roundtable
  • IMUAlliance
  • The Community Children’s Councils
  • Hawaii State Parent Teacher Student Association
  • Special Education Advisory Council
  • Harold K.L. Castle Foundation
  • Hawaii Association of Independent Schools
  • Good Beginnings Alliance[4]
  • Children's Action Network


Yes on 4 for Pre-K Keiki provided the following argument in favor of Amendment 4:

Over the past two years the state legislature and the Governor have focused increasing attention on expanding access to high-quality preschool and early learning experiences for children in our state. Hawaii was, until this summer, one of only ten states not funding a statewide preschool system.

Currently, the state is only funding preschool spaces for approximately 420 children, out of over 17,000 eligible four-year-olds. That means the burden of preschool falls squarely on the shoulders of parents and can run over $800 a month.

We think that’s unacceptable.

The Yes on 4 campaign's goal is to pass ballot question #4 on the 2014 general election ballot. Passing this question would amend our state constitution to allow the legislature (should it choose) to contract with non-profit preschools to offer preschool to four year olds in Hawaii. Participating schools would be required to meet high-quality industry standards, not discriminate based on race, religion, gender, or ancestry, and submit to state oversight.

Voting YES on ballot question #4 provides our state with the flexibility to provide more high-quality preschool to more keiki in years versus decades. Let’s do what’s right and pono – VOTE YES on 4 this coming November! [2]

Yes on 4 for Pre-K Keiki[7]

Yes on 4 for Pre-K Keiki also supplied four facts to encourage people to vote "yes" on the amendment:[8]

  • "90% of a child’s brain is developed by the age of 5."
  • "Approximately 42% of keiki in Hawaii have not attended preschool."
  • "For every $1 invested in early learning, our state gains $4.20 (2008)."
  • "All states that operate state-funded prekindergarten systems contract out to community based providers or preschool so they can reach more children."

Other arguments in support of the amendment include:

  • State Representative Roy Takumi (D-35) noted, "If you or a loved one have had the benefit of a preschool education, it was because a private provider gave it to you. For decades, they have shouldered the burden and responsibility of educating our youngest children alone. This constitutional amendment would allow government to step up to the plate and partner with the private sector as we seek to prepare our children to succeed in both school and life."[5]

Campaign contributions

As of September 10, 2014, supporters have received $505,410 in contributions.[9]

PAC info:

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
Good Beginnings Alliance - Children's Action Network $505,410 $0
Total $505,410 $0

Top contributors:

Donor Amount
Kamehameha Schools $500,000
Pacific Resource Partnership $5,000
Danton Naone $200





  • Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA)[11]
  • Jeanne Marie Iorio, professor of early childhood education at the University of Hawai'i[6]
  • Susan Matoba Adler, professor of early childhood education at the University of Hawai'i


Jeanne Marie Iorio and Susan Matoba Adler, professors of early childhood education at the University of Hawai’i - West O’ahu, submitted testimony to the legislature opposing Senate Bill 1084. The following is an excerpt from their testimony:

...By turning public education over to private entities, we are reducing education to a commodity up for competitive bid.

This neoliberal agenda is limiting any possibility for equity within early childhood by taking public funds (Kozol, 2007) in order to further a narrow, standardized curriculum and continue high-stakes testing (Hursh, 2007; Kumashiro, 2008; Lipman, 2004). The continued use of fear and crisis by the government and advocacy groups in regard to early childhood is allowing for the privileging of market strategies over public education (Kumashiro, 2008, 2012).

By passing this bill, Hawaii is setting the stage to continue to blame children, families, and teachers for children not being “ready” instead of the inequity enacted across education in the state. Compliance and conformity will be commonplace and equity and democracy will be in the margin and may even disappear.

Further, private programs are not held to a comprehensive holistic care and education curriculum for all children regardless of race, ethnicity, ability, gender, and religion and could be totally academic oriented and not developmentally appropriate. This amendment opens the door to skill training to meet standards and benchmarks. If, in fact, the populations who cannot afford private education (preschool as well as K-3, the parameters of Early Childhood) are low income, minorities and families with children with disabilities, then for equity, these private preschools must accept all students in these categories (regardless of religion, family configuration and sexual orientation of parents).

With the passing of this bill, the definition of “high quality” in terms of early childhood programs is defined through which private schools receive monies. Bills may be written and passed in order to ensure certain private programs receive monies. For example, if one program is willing to comply with a certain list of standards and contribute to the development of data system, then the program can be listed as high quality. Yet, there are a variety of child-centered forms (High Scope, Bank Street, Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia Inspired) with differing philosophies, which may not test and teach discrete skills for literacy and math (using testing of math and pre- reading skills as a metric for success, is inappropriate and narrows the curriculum).

The passing of this bill begins a decline in early childhood education as equity disappears in the name of market and money. [2]

—Professors Jeanne Marie Iorio and Susan Matoba Adler, [6]

Other arguments against the amendment include:

  • David Ige, the Democratic nominee for governor in 2014, stated, "We should first successfully implement early education programs in our public schools before considering spreading our limited tax dollars to private preschools. The amendment asks voters to approve a preschool program with no details on how much it will cost and how the program will work."[10]
  • State Senator Samuel Slom said, "This is not about education. This is about funding a subsidy.”[5]
  • Alan Isbell, Waiuku Elementary School Teacher and HSTA representative, argued, “Most public school teachers wholeheartedly support early childhood education, but not for private schools funded by taxpayers. The Hawaii State Teachers Association [is]… unequivocally opposed to any privatization or subcontracting that has the potential to reduce the resources that otherwise would be available to achieve and/or maintain quality public education, or the potential to otherwise negatively affect public education. Such privatization also would allow public funds to be used for religious education or other religious purposes, weakening the wall between church and state.”[12]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the Hawaii Constitution

State Senator Donna Mercado Kim (D-14) introduced a bill into the legislature to alter the constitution and put the measure before voters on January 24, 2013. The bill was approved through a two-thirds vote in both legislative chambers. SB 1084 was approved by the Hawaii Senate and Hawaii House of Representatives on April 30, 2013.[1]

Senate vote

April 30, 2013 Senate vote

Hawaii SB 1084 Senate Vote
Approveda Yes 21 84.00%

House vote

April 30, 2013 House vote

Hawaii SB 1084 House Vote
Approveda Yes 37 72.55%

See also

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