Aiona proposes early college education initiative for Hawaii students

Duke Aiona, the Republican candidate for governor, laid out his plan Thursday to help improve education in the state.

He wants to create a program that would allow students to complete grades 9 to 14 and graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate degree.

Hawaii’s Early College program would be an opt-in, no-cost program available only at schools that want to participate.

“These (students) are the ones when they come in to high school in the ninth grade, they really have no vision. They really have no hope. They really have no intention of going to college,” Aiona said. “Then they see this program that’s kind of laid out for them and it’s at no cost to them. I hope that’ll inspire them to say, ‘Hey, I want to take advantage of this because I want to get a livable wage.'”

Aiona says the goal is to have at least 90 percent of the program funded by business partnerships as well as community foundations and federal dollars.

“They provide that pathway for the student to be a part of their business and their industry,” he said. “It’s going to give our businesses an opportunity to have that qualified educated work force that they always wanted.”

There are about 280 programs like this throughout the country, with about 80,000 students participating.

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