Every child in Hawaii deserves a quality education, because few things are more important in creating opportunity in a young person’s life.
My wife Jaime and I care about all of Hawaii’s children, and we believe that in order to thrive and succeed, all of our keiki need consistent educational enrichment, health care, nutrition and safety throughout childhood.
I know firsthand the transformative effects a quality public education can have on a student’s life, opening doors for growth, development, and productive work.
I attended public schools from grades K-12, and both of my young children have attended Hawaii public schools.
I am committed to investing in the education of our keiki to increase their chance for success, and their potential and productivity throughout their lives.
The pandemic showed us how important Hawaii’s schools are to our students, families and communities, and reminded us that there is no substitute for quality, in-classroom learning.
Our schools help form the foundation of our communities, but right now we face challenges to our common goal of providing students with the best possible education we can give them.
Too often we don’t pay our teachers enough to live in Hawaii, our class sizes are too large for educators to give personal attention to students who need extra help, and many of our school facilities need repairs and upgrades.
Our state suffers a chronic shortage of 1,200 teachers each year as we struggle to retain qualified and experienced educators, mainly due to our high cost of living and lack of affordable housing.
We must do more to retain quality, experienced teachers in Hawaii, and that means offering competitive pay, benefits and affordable housing so they can afford to live here.
We also need to invest in programs that help provide our keiki with a better chance at success.
Research shows that investment in early childhood education improves outcomes for children throughout their lives, but we still lack a fully funded, universal Pre-K program in Hawaii.
Too many students with families of their own lack access to affordable child care, making it harder for parents to pursue education beyond high school.
We must invest new resources in services like child care on our community college and university campuses, so more students are able to balance the demands of school and family and graduate with degrees.
We also need to address food insecurity, so no student in Hawaii goes hungry and they can focus on what matters most: learning.
In 2016, I proposed a measure to make community college free for any student in Hawaii, and in 2018, I supported a constitutional amendment to reform our tax system so our state can invest more in public education and retain experienced teachers.
I stand by those positions today and I will continue to support them.If elected governor, I will implement a plan to strengthen and support education in Hawaii, which will:
>> Develop and fund a universal public pre-kindergarten program to prepare our keiki for success;
>> Expand literacy programs for students who need extra help reading;
>> Hire and retain quality, experienced teachers by offering competitive pay, benefits and affordable housing so they can afford to live in Hawaii;
>> Conduct a comprehensive review of Department of Education spending to identify and direct more resources into our classrooms;
>> Offer every high school graduate in Hawaii a free community college education;
>> Nominate quality candidates to the Board of Education who reflect Hawaii’s diversity, including experienced educators;
>> Seek more federal funding to invest in our students, teachers, and schools;
>> Provide basic nutrition for students at school so they can focus on learning;
>> Make child care accessible and affordable for community college and university students with families;
>> Address disparities and expand access to information technologies essential to 21st century education like broadband internet and connected devices.
As parents of two children growing up in Hawaii, my wife Jaime and I will do everything we can to help build the future we want them to live in.
A quality education for every child in our state is essential to that future — a future where every person has the opportunity to pursue their goals and dreams.
A future where we can all rise together.