Dear friends and supporters,
The Hannemanns have always believed in the importance of education.
That was one of the reasons my parents moved to Hawaii from American Samoa: to enable their children to receive the best education possible. My mother dreamed that someday one of her children would go on to attend one of the finest universities in America. To that end, she would walk with me from our home to the Kalihi-Palama Library so I would develop a passion for reading and writing. My father, who worked three jobs at times to put me and my siblings through school, always found time at the end of the day to sit down with us to help us finish our homework and, together with my mom, would attend and support all my extracurricular activities.
I carry my family’s commitment to education with me to this day and pledge to make improving our education system one of my top priorities in Congress. My dedication to education has earned us the coveted endorsement of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, and the Hawaii Government Employees Association, the three unions which represent Hawaii’s more than 13,000 public school teachers, 4,000 university faculty members, and 830 public school principals, vice principals, and educational officers.
I’d like to share three key areas I will focus on to ensure that our keiki receive the best education possible from the time they first step into a classroom to the day they receive their final diploma.
Investing in early childhood education
I believe that developing a high quality early education system is one of the best investments we can make for our community. As your congressman, I will advocate for legislation that strengthens our early childhood education programs such as Head Start and Early Head Start. I will also work to establish sensible processes for evaluating school readiness for our youngest keiki to make sure that they begin on a path to success at an early age.
I will also be a steadfast partner for our state government and local nonprofit organizations so that early childhood education programs are as accessible and affordable as possible for all Hawaii families.
Collaborative leadership to support our teachers
In my past roles at the city, state, and federal levels, I have always been a proponent of inviting all stakeholders to come to the table to share their concerns and offer their recommendations. As such, I will seek the input of Hawaii’s teachers, administrators, parents, and other members of the community as Congress takes on the task of improving upon and fixing the flaws of “No Child Left Behind” during the upcoming reauthorization of the ESEA (Elementary & Secondary Education Act).
Having worked as a history teacher at Iolani School, I know that all teachers deserve a high level of support from administrators, parents, government, and the community at large. Therefore, I support the National Education Association’s goals for improving teacher quality through new teacher induction programs to support recruitment and retention; professional development opportunities; classroom preparation time; licensure; and involvement in decisions affecting their evaluation. I also believe our teachers ought to earn a fair, professional wage and deserve meaningful assessments that employ valid and reliable techniques and use multiple measures to gauge performance in the classroom.
Ensuring accessible and affordable higher education
I believe that higher education should be affordable and within reach for all Hawaii families. As such, I support lowering interest rates on student loans, extending tax credits for families paying for college expenses, increasing Pell Grant awards, and expanding work-study programs for those working their way through school. I will also collaborate to find ways to streamline federal programs to ensure that they are as effective, efficient, and accessible as possible for students and their families.
As your congressman, I will prioritize federal funding and grants for our community colleges, four year universities, and graduate-level research institutions to ensure that our young people remain competitive in the globalized 21st century economy. I will also reach out to the private sector to build partnerships to promote the University of Hawaii system both nationally and internationally. We need to better prepare and educate our youth to maximize the opportunities that await us in the dynamic Asia-Pacific Region.
Hawaii’s voters face an important choice in the upcoming elections on August 11. I hope you will join with me in standing tall for education and securing a better future for our keiki.