New PSAs urge lawmakers to fund preschool for all 4-year-olds

Be My Voice! Hawai‘i unveils T.V., radio and print media campaign

Honolulu, Hawai‘i -- The Good Beginnings Alliance and the Be My Voice! Hawai‘i Leadership Council today unveiled television, radio and print public service announcements aimed at urging state lawmakers to vote in favor of funding in the 2013 legislative session for a statewide preschool program for all four-year-olds

The Be My Voice! Hawai‘i media campaign will launch on Tuesday to capture the attention of a key segment of the community as well as the state’s policymakers, all whom will be watching election results roll in.

“The public service announcements are intentionally provocative to pose hard questions about funding priorities in the state,” said Deborah Zysman, the Executive Director of the Good Beginnings Alliance and a member of the Be My Voice! Hawai‘i Leadership Council. “We believe now is the time to push the envelope so that support for education for our youngest children will translate into a meaningful amount of money next legislative session. All families with four-year-olds in Hawai‘i should be able to send their children to preschool and a lack of financial resources should not be the reason why they don’t.”

Television spots will begin running on KGMB, KHNL, KHON and KITV on election night followed the next day by PSAs on radio stations and in every daily newspaper across the state including the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Hawai‘i Tribune-Herald, Maui News and The Garden Island. Later in the month, print ads will appear in Midweek and Midweek Kaua‘i.

The PSAs will run through January – the start of the 2013 session of the state Legislature – when a 16-page insert focusing on early learning in Hawai‘i will appear in Hawai‘i Business and Honolulu Family magazines. Plans also call for the production of a 30-minute television show on the Hawai‘i News Now stations that month.

“We’d like to especially thank folks like Rick Blangiardi of Hawai‘i News Now, David Tumilowicz at Hawai‘i Business magazine and Dennis Francis and Glenn Zuehls at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser for understanding the importance of this issue and partnering with us to brainstorm creative ways to get the word out to the community,” Zysman said. “Our thanks also go out to James Sereno and his crew at Kinetic Productions for coming up with thought-provoking concepts for our PSAs.”

As part of Be My Voice! Hawai‘i, grassroots initiatives to garner public support will take shape in the form of door-to-door canvassing, mailings to households, petition drives and rallies on three islands.

Funding for this issue next session is critical due to the passage of Act 178, which was approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Neil Abercrombie earlier this year. Act 178 changes the age criteria for children eligible to enroll in public school kindergarten in Hawaii beginning in the 2014-2015 school year. Children who turn 5 on or between January 1 through July 31 will be eligible to enroll in kindergarten. But children born later in the year will no longer be able to attend junior kindergarten which will be eliminated under Act 178 beginning with the 2014 school year.

That means the families of about 5,100 children who would’ve been in a pre-kindergarten program will be forced to pay thousands of dollars for an extra year of preschool or not send their children to school at all.

“The research is clear. Kids who went to preschool do better academically – their reading scores and graduation rates, for example, are higher – and they are less prone to risky behaviors that will land them in jail or other precarious situations,” Zysman said. “This movement is all about giving kids the best start in their academic lives.”

Act 178 also created the Executive Office on Early Learning that is headed by Terry Locke. Locke’s office is in the midst of creating a comprehensive preschool plan along with a funding request that it will present to the state Legislature next session.

“We did a poll in the summer that showed overwhelming public support for a state-funded preschool program and for different funding mechanisms to finance it,” Zysman said. “We do see the next legislative session as a window of opportunity for early learning and the children of Hawai‘i.”

 

###

 

Good Beginnings Alliance is Hawai‘i’s leading independent voice advocating for the rights of the whole child: safety, health, and education. The grassroots, public will-building campaign, Be My Voice! Hawai‘i, is committed to ensuring every child has access to quality preschool so they can succeed in school and in life. www.bemyvoicehawaii.org