PRIORITIZING EDUCATION AND FIXING OUR SCHOOLS
Chris believes a solid education is every child’s right. We must improve our schools, protect funding for students and teachers, and ensure a solid curriculum that will prepare students to be productive citizens in the 21st century.
Chris has worked to engage parents and communities in public schools, while working alongside Parents for Public Schools Hawaii and other organizations in his spare time.
Modern green schools with proper classroom conditions have been shown to improve learning and cognitive function as much as 300%. Chris served as lead negotiator on a deal to provide $100 million to cool hot classrooms, modernize aging campuses, and install solar panels and batteries that can save schools millions electric bills. When teachers asked for additional help, he followed up by passing another bill providing an additional $46 million to cool classrooms. Chris also worked to help local solar companies donate solar air-conditioning units to schools in Kailua.
Chris was named national “Best Policymaker” by the US Green Building Council Center for Green Schools for two laws he passed making Hawaii the first state to direct all public schools and universities to produce 100% of their own power from cheaper renewables by 2035. School and university power bills are expected to exceed $2 billion over the next two decades. By generating their own renewable power this money can be better spent on teachers and students in classrooms rather than paying utilities. In 2020 the first UH campus on Oahu achieved this goal. Leeward Community College in Pearl City announced that it has achieved our net-zero target and has already generated 97% of its energy from solar systems. It is one of the first net-zero campuses in the United States. Leeward Community College's efforts will save the UH system $269,000 in energy and operational costs this year and $8.4million in operating costs over the next 20 years.
To accelerate improvements to campuses Chris also passed a law establishing a green revolving fund to allow the University of Hawaii to recycle energy savings into new energy saving projects.
Chris supported increasing funding for education in public schools, and has fought for more flexibility for each school to better take care of its students. Until now, Hawaii has been one of 11 states without a state-funded preschool system. Chris fought to establish early education and public preschools accessible to all local families, and in 2020 supported the bill which is set to roll out early education across Hawaii.
With incidences of stroke among young adults rising, and strokes among the leading causes of death and disability in the country, Chris passed legislation directing the Department of Education to incorporate stroke awareness and training into curriculum. Students can save the lives of older family members if they know what signs to look for.
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