Hirono’s New Ad: Enabling Hawaii’s Youth To Succeed In School and Life

Congresswoman Mazie Hirono at the 2012 Hawaii Democratic Convention
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Congresswoman Mazie Hirono at the 2012 Hawaii Democratic Convention

REPORT FROM HIRONO US SENATE CAMPAIGN– As record numbers are expected to participate in Hawaii’s Early Voting period, which started on Tuesday (Oct. 23) and goes until Saturday (Nov. 3), the campaign of Democratic U.S. Senate nominee, Mazie Hirono, released a new television commercial today that highlights Hirono’s commitment to standing up for Hawaii’s youth.

Having immigrated to the U.S. at a young age unable to speak English, Hirono has long understood the importance of childhood education, which gave her the opportunity to succeed in school and in life. During her years in public service, Hirono has long been committed to improving education and her efforts as an early-education advocate were recognized by Pre-K Now, an national education organization that presented Hirono with the “Pre-K Champion” award in 2008 — Hirono was the first member of Congress to receive the award.


In the new ad, entitled “Life”, Hirono affirms her commitment to continuing these efforts in the U.S. Senate by saying, “We have to do even more to enable our students, our young people to succeed in school and life.”

To view the 30-second television spot, click on the below image (direct link: https://bit.ly/XshMuo):



HIRONO: “To prepare our keiki for good jobs…every child must have a good education. We have to do even more to enable our students, our young people, to succeed in school and in life.”


MALE VO: “Mazie Hirono – created Hawaii’s ‘Pre-Plus’ program so children from working families can attend high-quality pre-schools.”


As Lieutenant Governor, Hirono Launched Pre-Plus Program to Provide Preschool to Low Income Hawaii Families. On January 15, 2002 Mazie Hirono launched the Pre-Plus program, a program aimed at helping thousands of children obtain preschool education that their parents would not be able to afford. Under the program, thirteen preschools for low income families would be built. The state used $2.5 million in capital improvement funds to pay for the new schools. An additional thirteen schools were scheduled to be built in the following years. According to Monica Kaui, Hirono’s Pre-Plus coordinator, more than 50 percent of families would be eligible to attend the preschools for free. [Honolulu Star Bulletin, 1/15/02]

Hirono Broke Ground at First Pre-Plus Site. On March 14, 2002 Lt. Governor Mazie Hirono officially broke ground at the state’s first Pre-Plus site, located within Salt Lake Elementary. The portable classroom would hold twenty students. Hirono said, “Today’s ceremony marks a significant milestone in our effort to provide equal access to pre-school for all of Hawaii’s keiki. Currently thousands of children from low income families throughout Hawaii do not receive pre-school education. As a result, these children are at a disadvantage when they enter kindergarten because they are not grounded in early critical skills building and socialization. Pre-Plus ensures all of Hawaii’s children will get off to a solid start in school by offering universal pre-school access to three and four year olds at Department of Education school campuses.” [Hirono Press Release, 3/14/02]

“And, Hirono has been named a ‘Pre-Kindergarten Champion’ for her leadership on early-childhood learning.” AS A HOUSE FRESHMAN, MAZIE HIRONO WAS NAMED A PRE-K CHAMPION FOR HER LEADERSHIP ON QUALITY EARLY EDUCATION

In Naming Hirono A “Pre-K Champion” Pre-K Now Executive Director Said It Was “Highly Unusual For A Freshman To Accomplish What Hirono Has Done…We Want To Recognize Her Extraordinary Leadership”.  On July 16, 2008, States News Service reported that Hirono had been honored as a 2008 Pre-K Champion by Pre-K Now.  Libby Doggett, executive director of Pre-K Now, said, “In the past, we have only honored states with the Pre-K Champion Award; this is the first time that we have presented the Award to an individual member of congress. It is highly unusual for a freshman member to accomplish what Congresswoman Hirono has done and we wanted to recognize her extraordinary leadership, strong initiative and her ability to garner support for her bill.”  Hirono said, “The first five years of life are crucially important to brain development and early learning. Research shows quality early education enables children to succeed in school and in life. It is the best investment we can make in the future of our children. Increasing numbers of policymakers and leaders from the business community agree, and are coming together to support quality pre-k for all of our children.”  [Hirono Press Release, 7/16/08]

Hirono Was Honored By Pre-K Now For Her Leadership On July 16, 2008 In its 2008 press release, Pre-K Now noted: “The following advocates were honored with Pre-K Champion awards on July 16, 2008: Congresswoman Maize Hirono (D-HI) received the 2008 Pre-K Champion award for her outstanding congressional leadership on H.R. 3282, Providing Resources Early for Kids Act (Pre-K Act). This federal bill, intended to expand high-quality early educational opportunities for more children, is one of only 20 (out of over 800) to be marked up by the House Education and Labor Committee this Congress. Lauded for her tenacity and vision on behalf of young children, particularly as a freshman in Congress, Rep. Hirono’s bill — if passed — would be the first-ever federal incentive grant to states to improve their pre-k programs.” [Pre-K Now Press Release,7/16/08]


MALE VO: “For a Senator who knows education means opportunity. MazieHirono.”


HIRONO: “I’m Mazie Hirono, and I approve this message.”


As A Freshman In Congress, Hirono Had Elements Of Her Early Education Loan Forgiveness Act Passed In President Bush’s College Cost Reduction And Access Act Of 2007. Hirono introduced H.R. 2655, the Early Education Loan Forgiveness Act, which would have provided early childhood educators that work for 5 years in low-income and underserved communities up to $5,000 in student loan forgiveness. Through Hirono’s efforts, early childhood educators were included in Title IV of the final College Cost Reduction and Access Act. This title allows people employed in public service jobs, including public education, to have their remaining federal education loans forgiven if they meet certain requirements. [HR 2669, Public Law No: 110-84; GPO:PDF]

Hirono Worked With Don Young (R-AK) To Restore Federal Funding For Native Hawaiian Education Programs.  In February 2011, Hirono touted the passage of an amendment she offered to save the Native Hawaiian Education Act and the Alaska Native Education Equity Act that faced funding elimination.  Hirono offered the amendment with her colleague Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska).  The Young-Hirono Amendment was one of a few bipartisan amendments among the more than 500 amendments offered to the bill.  “Working across the aisle, Representative Young and I were able to join forces to counteract those who strongly oppose any programs benefiting Native Hawaiians or Alaska Natives.  We lobbied our members hard, and I was thrilled with the decisive vote. Although we differ in many of our political views, we share a commitment to fairness for the indigenous, aboriginal people of what is now the United States,” said the Congresswoman.  The Hirono amendment passed the U.S. House by a vote of 313 yeas to 117 nays.  The Young-Hirono Amendment restores the eligibility of Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native education programs for federal funding.  “Vital programs that serve our communities have been cut by the Republican Majority.  Democrat after Democrat has spoken for over thirty-four hours over the past three days on how these cuts impact our districts.  To be able to work collaboratively, even in the toxic Washington environment, speaks to the importance of Native Hawaiian education programs,” said Hirono.” [States News Service, 2/17/11; HR 1, Amdt 532, Vote 74,2/17/11]

Hirono Secured $500,000 For Tutu and Me Traveling Pre-School. In support of HR 1105 the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009, Hirono said: “I’m particularly pleased that we obtained funding for educational programs such as Tutu and Me and the Kanuikapono Charter School. The $500,000 appropriation to the Tutu and Me Traveling Program will be put to good use by this unique preschool program that provides free preschool to neighborhoods where 50% of Hawaiian children enter kindergarten without any early educational opportunities.” [Hirono Press Release, 2/28/08; HR 1105 Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009; Passed House 245-178, Vote 86, 2/25/09; Passed Senate by Voice Vote, 3/10/09; Signed in to Law, 3/11/09]

Hirono Sponsored Bipartisan Bill to Help Children Entering Elementary School. In August 2011, Hirono introduced H.R. 2794, the Continuum of Learning Act of 2011, to help children get a good start in elementary school by ensuring that states take into account the needs of preschoolers in charting their education plans. This bipartisan early childhood learning initiative helps educators from Head Start, other quality early childhood education programs, and elementary schools work together so young children can have a successful transition from pre-K to elementary school. “It’s a bipartisan bill, which is a challenge these days,” said Hirono, who teamed up with another Democrat and two Republicans to introduce the legislation, which would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and benefit up to 86,000 children in Hawai’i. “Without spending any additional taxpayer dollars, this bipartisan legislation helps our keiki enter school ready to learn and increases their success in the early years,” she said. “That early success puts our students on the path to graduate and compete for the best jobs.” [Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 8/05/11; Targeted News Service, 8/05/11]

Hirono Was Selected as a Conferee for Head Start Legislation.  In the beginning of December, 2007, Asianweek reported that Hirono had been selected by congressional leaders to serve on the conference committee to finalize the Head Start for School Readiness Act.  Hirono said, “I am particularly interested in improving the quality of early education programs. That is also the goal of a bill I introduced known as the PRE-K Act. Children acquire a strong foundation for success by participating in early education, as long as they are in a high quality program.”  [Asianweek, 11/30/07-12/6/07; HR 1429, Roll Call 1090, R 154-36; D 227-0, 11/14/07]

Hirono Twice Voted Against The Republican Ryan Budget Which Would Cut Education Funding By 1/3 And Have Negative Impacts On Nearly 30,000 Low Income Students In Hawaii. On April 15, 2011 Hirono voted against the Republican budget bill, drafted by Congressman Paul Ryan. Hirono again voted against the Ryan Budget on March 29, 2012. The Republican budget cuts funding for education by 33%. Meaning that by 2014, service would be cut for nearly 30,000 low-income students and nearly 5,000 students with disabilities in Hawaii public schools, and would put 250 Hawaii teachers and school staff out of a job. The Republican Ryan budget would cut over 800 Hawaii students from Head Start. [New York Times, 4/15/11; H Con Res 34, Vote 277, 4/15/11; H Con Res 112, Vote 151, 3/29/12;  Washington Post, 8/12/12; Hirono Press Release, 3/29/12]