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Easley files amicus brief in lawsuit over Pre-K expansion

Posted July 25, 2013

— Former Gov. Mike Easley, who created the More at Four early childhood education program more than a decade ago, has jumped into the legal battle over access to pre-kindergarten programs in North Carolina.

The North Carolina Supreme Court could hear the case as early as October, and Easley filed a brief Wednesday in support of wider access.

"These children, their young minds are perishable commodities," Easley said Thursday.

Two years ago, Manning threw out legislative changes to the early childhood education program that limited access and required parents to pick up part of the cost. He ruled that North Carolina has a constitutional duty to provide pre-kindergarten to at-risk 4-year-olds.

Lawmakers later dropped those limitations, but as part of this year's budget, they changed the definition of "at-risk" to reduce by half the number of children who would qualify for NC Pre-K, the state-run pre-kindergarten program that Republican lawmakers created to replace More at Four and the Smart Start program.

Easley said the state needs to invest more in early childhood education, not find ways to cut funding.

"You can't just put them on the shelf for two years and wait for better economic times. You've got to find the money and do what the constitution says," he said.

Pre-kindergarten generic, Smart Start Easley says all children need access to early education

Attorney General Roy Cooper, whose office will defend the legislative position in the case, said he supports more resources for early childhood education. Still, his office has been defending so-called "Leandro" cases challenging school spending and educational equality cases for about 20 years.

Easley said he believes he can add some historical context to the debate for the Supreme Court.

"As governor, I formed a tremendous passion for education," he said. "It makes sense, in a way, that I would be involved in (the case). As a matter of fact, to me, it would not make sense if I wouldn't get involved."

He said he believes the nation is watching North Carolina closely for the outcome of the case.

"Those days are gone when you could educate part of the workforce and kind of leave the rest in tow," he said. "Everybody has to be educated for your state and country to compete."

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  • itsyoureternalsoul Jul 29, 2013

    Sorry Mike, state is out of money, and Teacher Assistant layoffs are imminent, followed by mass younger grade exoduses by teachers. State cannot afford Pre-K if it cannot afford K

  • beachboater Jul 26, 2013

    He's in it to make a profit of some type. Bank on it.

  • SnupeLyin Jul 26, 2013

    I'm assuming most of you all didnt have kids that were in pre-k programs... Younger smarter kids grow up making better decisions...

  • djbyrdnc Jul 26, 2013

    Tax payers are paying for baby sitters. Why do the parents of these children pay their own child care?

  • bluegrass Jul 26, 2013

    Public funded babysitting, nothing more. What a waste.

  • Jul 26, 2013

    "... why are we even listening to a convicted felon?"

    That is a good question and it's true he is a convicted felon.

  • ncpilot2 Jul 26, 2013

    I guess his "punishment" meant nothing. I believe most citizens would like him to just go away. He's just making money off of claiming to be "for the children."

  • ncrebel Jul 26, 2013

    I can't believe a court would entertain allowing him, of all people, to file anything! What a disgrace.

  • Weaker Pelosi Jul 26, 2013

    I would like for Mike to show me where in the state constitution is says a sound education includes anything before kindergarten. Also, these do good feel good programs are busting the budget making it very diffuclt to give raises to teachers and state workers.

  • readme Jul 26, 2013

    Pre-K needs to be defunded and tanked in favor of k-12 spending. I don't know why he acts like this is some kind of constitutional right. Parents should be held accountable to get their kids ready for school at age 5.

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