Alan Arimoto, PreK teacher
Photo Courtesy: Craig T. Kojima / Caption: Alan Arimoto, PreK teacher and MEd ECE student

In the April 26, 2021 Star-Advertiser article, “Hawaii’s prekindergarten classes lauded for quality not quantity,” the College of Education (COE) is commended for the quality of its early childhood education (ECE) programs and long-standing partnership with the Executive Office on Early Learning (EOEL). The article highlights a National Institute for Early Education Research report in which Hawaiʻi’s public prekindergarten (PreK) program received top marks for quality, meeting all 10 quality standards for public PreK programs.

“We are excited for the attention and focus the article has placed on the importance of providing young children with access to high-quality early care and education programs,” said EOEL Director Lauren Moriguchi.

Robyn Chun, COE Director of Graduate Early Childhood Education Programs, stated, “The work with families and children in the first five years of a child’s life lays the foundation for the child’s educational and life experiences. We have made great strides over the past several years, and this article is such a celebration of our collective work with the EOEL and Hawaiʻi Department of Education (HIDOE) as well as our MEd ECE students who have been instrumental in stepping up to participate in ECE advocacy.”

Together, ECE faculty in the college and the EOEL have pushed for professional recognition of teachers and educational assistants (EA) working with our youngest children. They have partnered with the EOEL to provide professional learning support for the HIDOE public PreK programs so that teachers and principals can engage in a continuous cycle of professional growth, and teachers and educational assistants can pursue credentials in ECE.

“There are some very positive movements towards making pathways to teacher licensure in ECE more accessible and achieving professional recognition for early childhood educators and compensation equal to that of other teachers,” Chun said. “There is a good chance of HB 1362 getting passed this session, and if President Biden’s American Families Plan is passed, investments in tuition stipends and incentives for our future educators will enable us to build and retain an ECE workforce. That puts us in a better position to staff and expand early learning programs for Hawaiʻi’s youngest keiki.”

Moriguchi concluded, “We look forward to working with the College of Education to launch a stipend program that will support professionals in the early childhood sector. We are hopeful that there will be a bigger spotlight on the workforce – predominantly women of color – and the need to support them. They are the professionals who have been caring for our children all these years, often for minimum-wage pay. We’re excited that both the State Legislature and President Biden’s plans have acknowledged the need to support the field.”

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