Hawaii State Funding for Private Early Childhood Education Programs, SB 1084 (2014)
The Hawaii State Funding for Private Early Childhood Education Programs, SB 1084 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.
Text of the measure
The official ballot text reads as follows:
|“||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?"||”|
|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:
- Child & Family Service
- Hawaii Association for the Education of Young Children
- Kamehameha Schools
- Hawaii Business Roundtable
- 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
- 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."
- Sen. Samuel Slom (R-9)
- Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA)
- Jeanne Marie Iorio, professor of early childhood education at the University of Hawai'i
- 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. 
—Professors Jeanne Marie Iorio and Susan Matoba Adler, 
Other arguments against the amendment include:
- State Senator Samuel Slom said, "This is not about education. This is about funding a subsidy.”
- 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.”
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.
April 30, 2013 Senate vote
|Hawaii SB 1084 Senate Vote|
April 30, 2013 House vote
|Hawaii SB 1084 House Vote|
- Hawaii State Legislature, "SB1084 SD1 HD1 CD1," accessed January 16, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Hawaii State Legislature, "SB 1084 Text,", accessed April 7, 2014
- Honolulu Civil Beat, "Voters To Decide If Hawaii Can Use Public Money For Private Preschool," May 1, 2013
- Hawaii Legislature, "Education Committee Testimony on February 1, 2013," accessed August 18, 2014
- Honolulu Civil Beat, "What Hawaii's Legislature Has in Store for Education," January 10, 2014
- Hawaii State Teachers Association, "What one teachers says about preschool vouchers and public education," March 8, 2013
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