Senator Michelle N. Kidani
Chair, Senate Education Committee
Representative Roy M. Takumi
Chair, House Education Committee
Dear Senator Kidani and Representative Takumi:
Parents for Public Schools of Hawai‘i (PPSHI) has received comments from families who are in public schools across our State about what they love about their schools and their concerns about public education. The message is clear that what they appreciate most about education is their child’s teacher. And yet, our State does not adequately compensate teachers for the excellent and hard work that teachers do. On behalf of the board of PPSHI, I am submitting this testimony in support of SB 2586 and HB 2733 which would increase funding for higher teacher pay and other issues of importance to families across the State.
Our teachers are education’s greatest resource. Families acknowledge that teachers are the key to our children’s success. We must be able to recruit and retain teachers who are caring, well-prepared, and hold high expectations for all children. Teachers are professionals and should not need to work second jobs and live paycheck to paycheck. If we would like to attract the best teachers and retain them in the profession, they need to be adequately compensated.
It is time to end excessive testing and refocus education on the whole child. Families value music, the arts, PE, and social studies education. They view these subjects as crucial for the development of their children’s healthy and creative development. They want schools to put these neglected areas back into public education. Families are very concerned that there has been little time in the school day for these “untested” domains that nurture the development of the whole child. The rigid climate of excessive testing that has pervaded our public education system over the last decade, has changed education for students, teachers, and families. All children deserve an education that nurtures every facet of their life, one that engages them in an interesting curriculum that integrates what they learn with their home, community, and cultural experiences and exposes them to new, exciting, and creative arenas. PPSHI supports SB 2586 and HB 2733 because it will shift attention away from the excessive standardized testing and put more time and resources into these more creative (and untested) domains.
We need universal, public preschools. PPSHI has received responses from members across the State in strong support of universal pre-kindergarten for Hawaii’s keiki, which is a component of SB 2586 and HB 2733. Studies consistently indicate that a quality preschool education promotes cognitive, social, and emotional development, which prepares children to enter kindergarten and succeed throughout their lives. Public preschools will ensure equity and access to all families. Public schools accept all children, they are accessible to all children, they have licensed teachers, and they are required to make accommodations for children with disabilities while private schools do not.
In conclusion, Parents for Public Schools of Hawai‘i strongly urges your support of SB 2586 and HB 2733. This is our greatest opportunity to support and promote education of all Hawai‘i’s keiki in ways that will significantly influence their lives. These bills can positively affect the lives of thousands of children and their families in our State for many generations to come. Thank you for your time and consideration.
|Lois Yamauchi, PhD
President, Parents for Public Schools of Hawai‘i
Parents for Public Schools Hawaii (PPSHI) is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) volunteer organization of parents, community members, and educators working to improve and support public education through family engagement. We are committed to ensuring all children in Hawai`i have access to a quality public education.