I believe Hawaii’s public education system is at a crossroads and we have to protect the best in our system and challenge that which is ineffective or unjust.

We have to keep supporting project-based, place-based, culturally responsive, and imaginative learning.

We have to ensure that quality teachers don’t leave the state due to high costs of living, low morale, or too little support for their creative aspirations.

Kim Coco Iwamoto has long advocated for our state’s keiki and educators. I first met her after she was elected to serve on the state Board of Education. She worked hard to develop an education system that cares about each child’s individual needs and then strives to meet those needs with attention to multiple intelligences, community connection, and student voice.

Lt Gov Candidate Kim Coco Iwamoto speaks during her press conference announcing the support of Local 5 endorsing her candidacy at their headquarters.

A former school board member, Kim Coco Iwamoto has been endorsed by the Local 5 union, among others.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Kim Coco and I share a passion for Social-Emotional Learning (SEL), which teaches critical skills necessary for both academic and life success. These skills include responsible decision-making, self-management, and empathy — skills that will help students develop personal and interpersonal peace, and will make it more likely that youth will make the transition into an adulthood that includes civic engagement, service, and leadership for a healthy and resilient community.

On the school board, Kim Coco brought a sharp focus to the issue of bullying in our schools. She was honored by the Obama White House as a Champion of Change for her advocacy to reduce bullying in the schools. Kim Coco’s Japanese-American mother survived being locked up in an Arizona internment camp and as a young adult, Kim Coco faced discrimination in the workplace. Hoping to lessen the trauma of psychic and physical violence for the next generation, she attained a law degree to help others who faced discrimination.

Kim Coco also knows that it’s not enough to address the effects of bullying and discrimination; we have to proactively build a community and hold space where communication, civility, compassion, and commitment to one another are everywhere present. I support Kim Coco because I know she will model these qualities as lieutenant governor and empower others to do likewise for our keiki and their future.

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