Governor Neil Abercrombie emphasized today he will make a hard push for the administration's early education priorities in the upcoming legislative session after receiving word that the state was not chosen as a recipient of the "Race to the Top -- Early Learning Challenge" grant competition.
"I congratulate our Early Childhood Coordinator Terry Lock and her team for their tireless work on the Plan and the grant application. We certainly could have used those funds to supplement our efforts in pushing the Plan's initiatives," said Governor Abercrombie. "Yet, thanks to their efforts we now have an ambitious state plan for Early Childhood Education reform. That in itself is an achievement we are proud of and are committed to seeing through."
Ms. Lock led the application process and collaborated with many of Hawai'i's early childhood leaders, advocates, department heads, and the legislature.
"Through this process, partnerships between state agencies, and private and public sectors have been strengthened around a unified framework," said Ms. Lock. "This state plan will be the guide for building a stronger quality early care and education system for our youngest keiki, especially those with high needs, and their families."
The next step is reviewing feedback and refining the Early Childhood Education State Plan. The Plan's working group includes private partners and the state Departments of Human Services, Health, Education, Labor and Industrial Relations, and the University of Hawai'i.
The Plan that was submitted to the Obama Administration proposes a collaborative and systematic approach to addressing five critical areas of reform in the state of Hawai'i:
1. Enhancing the integration and coordination of programs, policies, and services.
2. Designing and implementing a tiered quality rating and improvement system based on demanding statewide program standards.
3. Improving early learning and development outcomes, with a focus on children with high needs.
4. Enhancing the size and quality of the early childhood education workforce, and
5. Measuring outcomes and progress.
Ms. Lock noted, "There is no more important work than ensuring that all of Hawai'i's keiki are ready to succeed in school and compete in a global society. Our keiki are our future. "
Back in October, Senator Jill Tokuda, State Senate Education Committee Chair stated, "This was a unique opportunity to quickly come together as an early childhood community and define what it is that we want for our youngest of students and identify how we must work together to get there. Regardless of the outcome, this application has resulted in a very viable roadmap for a successful early childhood system, and with Terry Lock driving the plan, I am excited about how far we will be able to go."