HE’E Meeting with Policy Makers
Guest Speakers: Senator Jill Tokuda, Representative Roy Takumi, Senior Analyst Kate Stanley, Executive Office of Early Learning Director Terry Lock
October 9, 2012 10am-12pm
The Learning Coalition Office, 841 Bishop St. Suite 301
Attendees: Zach Dilonno (PPS), Sue Emley (PPS), Karen Ginoza (FACE), Thomas Hutton, Cherilyn Inouye (Kanu Hawaii), Jacob Karasik (TFA), Tamsin Keone (US Army), Jaccee Mikulanec (GBA), Cary Miyashiro (Hawaii USA Federal Credit Union), Byron Nagasako (US Army), Wendy Nakasone (US Army), Bill Reeves (TLC), Susan Rocco (SPIN), Clif Tanabe (UH College of Education), Dave Tom (GBA), Mary Weir (FACE), Pamela Young, Kimberly Kepner-Syborney (Innovative Educational Consulting), Cynthia Okazaki (PACT), Victor Geminiani (LEJ), Jenny Lee (LEJ), Jennifer Dang (DOE).
10:00-10:10 Welcome and Short Introduction
I. Senator Jill Tokuda shared about upcoming legislation.
a. There is one education committee in the Senate, emphasizing a continuum from Early Childhood through University of Hawaii.
b. Important Upcoming Issues:
i. Implementation of the first stages of a publicly funded Early Learning System
ii. Continued work on Charter School governance reforms
1. The National Association of Charter School Authorizers is helping with this transition
2. Half a million dollars are set aside to make the transition seamless
iii. Instructional time
1. The Bell Schedule Bill died on the House floor in the last session
2. The goal is to revive the bill, parceling it out into bell schedules and instructional time
iv. School Buses
1. A significant budgetary shortfall led to cuts in services
2. Consultants are coming to help revamp the system in November
v. A better procurement process
vi. Family School Partnership Act
1. California’s Act brought to attention by Kathy Bryant
2. Work with employers to ensure that parents can engage with schools
II. Kate Stanley and Terry Lock shared about the Governor’s priorities.
a. Kate Stanley presented the Governor’s priorities for Budget and Legislation:
i. The State’s unfunded liability: inability to fund pensions and health benefits
ii. Health transformation: deadlines to ensure ObamaCare is fully implemented
iii. Early Childhood Development and Learning: public funds need to be dedicated to our youngest citizens. Initiatives are located in the DoH; home visits and the Obesity Taskforce will be important aspects.
iv. Kate Stanley mentioned that the Governor asks departments to work with stakeholders in regard to all of these issues. The Governor does not want to reach so high that nothing is accomplished; he and his team think that the proposed request is achievable. However, it has been a challenge to communicate the importance of Early Learning to the Legislature, and there has not been a lot of excitement.
b. Terry Lock shared about the Executive Office of Early Learning.
i. The six year implementation plan will be built on the public and private sector that are already in place.
1. Hawaii is one of only eleven states that currently does not have a publically funded Early Learning program.
2. The Council has undergone a fiscal mapping process.
3. The plan will ensure strong family engagement standards, will connect with Common Core, will consider the transition to preschool, and will potentially expand Head Start to include more than the current 25% of all eligible.
4. Access must be balanced with quality through both incentives and guidelines.
5. The larger strategic plan covers prenatal to eight years old and includes health and development.
6. It will be a voluntary, not mandated, program.
III. Representative Roy Takumi provided some background on the Early Learning program. He gave the history of Junior Kindergarten in Hawaii, leading to its recent end. Previously, Hawaii had the youngest kids in Kindergarten in the country, and there were consequences to that. A decision was made that children must be five years old to enter Kindergarten, but the end of Junior Kindergarten has resulted in a situation where several families who were planning to send kids to JK now have no options. A challenge for the Early Learning system will be to address the needs of this group. We need to be proactive rather than reactive, but it is far more difficult to start something new than to expand something that already exists.
IV. Question & Answer
a. The Office of Early Learning will be located in the Governor’s office until 2015 when it will move to the DOE.
b. Policy makers are following up on RTTT reforms.
c. Low income is the federal mandate for Head Start, so middle class families with two working parents do not qualify. However, childcare costs need to reflect the cost of living; some subsidies are available and tax credits are being explored, but this would be several years down the road. Providing options for the working class is a large priority but also a large challenge.
d. The Early Learning standards are being developed along with P3. Diane Young, the Early Childhood Specialist, is also at the table. There is dialogue about things that cross-sector so that the welfare of the whole child is ensured.
e. Bullying is an ongoing issue and a major concern. Senator Tokuda said that this has been left at the DOE and BOE level because policies, which can be adapted, are more appropriate than statutes for this issue. The Department should be empowered to live up to the mandate but not micro-managed. Representative Takumi noted that bullying is a problem outside of the school too. It is a difficult issue because when it happens at school it’s called “bullying” but outside of school it’s “part of life.” It is also hard to determine what constitutes bullying. However, crimes are being committed, and this is a societal issue that is not just for schools but also perhaps for the Judiciary Committee.
f. The Legislature has not spoken with HSTA about instruction time this summer, not intentionally. If the bell schedule were aligned with transportation, millions of dollars would be saved. Additionally, some restructuring schools are counting on the Bell Schedule Bill.
g. Kate Stanley closed with a call for HE’E members to make an effort to support the Early Learning Initiative.
12:00pm Meeting Adjourned