A better Hawaii can only be achieved through the classroom. Our economic future and quality of life rests in the hands of our keiki. For decades, funding education has represented the largest slice of the state budget. But times are changing. By 2015 it is anticipated that the budget for Health and Human Services will eclipse that of Education. This unsustainable model is a direct result of not enough emphasis on education. More of our neighbors are finding themselves in economic hardship and needing government assistance for housing, food, and health care. Why? Because we have taken our eyes off the road to a better future.
Hawaii cannot have a single engine driving our economy. Tourism has laid many golden eggs for us, but we need to move towards a knowledge based economy. Today’s college graduates are they key to unlocking our potential. Mental stimulation encourages students to think, question, and formulate creative solutions. We need kama’aina with that edge and the ability “connect the dots” later in life.
I relish an endorsement by the UHPA because it’s a temperature check on my commitment to education. Lawmakers can provide students with new facilities, high tech resources, and extracurricular activities, but the magic on campus happens between a professor and a student. The importance of that relationship cannot be over emphasized. I have been a staunch advocate for providing faculty the benefits and salaries they deserve. Shortchanging our “educational worker bees” would be giving up on the next generation.
By putting so much emphasis on health and social services, we are focusing on the symptoms of our troubles. Rather, let’s bet our future, by investing in the pillars of our education system. Doing so will create more than just a New Day; it will create a Better Day!