Education

Budget writer defends changes to NC pre-K program

Posted July 20, 2011

— A lawmaker responsible for adding a co-payment for a pre-kindergarten program for at-risk children as part of the new state budget defended the requirement Wednesday, two days after a judge found the measure would deny many poor children access to the service.

Superior Court Judge Howard Manning ruled Monday that changes to what used to be called the More at Four program would limit enrollment in the service and violate a landmark state Supreme Court ruling, the so-called Leandro II ruling, that every child has a constitutional right to an equal education.

The $19.7 billion state budget that took effect this month cuts funding to More at Four by 20 percent and requires parents to pay up to 10 percent of their income to participate.

Manning said that the new program, called NC Pre-Kindergarten, also limits the number of spots for at-risk children to 20 percent.

Gov. Bev Perdue responded to the ruling Monday, urging lawmakers to take swift action to ensure no at-risk student is left out.

But Rep. Justin Burr, R-Stanly, who wrote that part of the budget, says the program doesn't limit students but helps with necessary budget cuts while opening the program to more children

"One hundred percent of the funds for the pre-K program are going to be for at-risk children," Burr said.

"We've tried to take those cuts that were made in previous years and reductions that we had to make as well and make improvements to those programs so that we can serve more kids, so that more kids can be a part of these programs," he added.

State school funding hearing Lawmaker responds to judge's ruling on NC pre-K budget

Burr says the co-pay would be waived for 20 percent of students but that no student would be turned away.

"I think we've got to educate Judge Manning and Gov. Perdue on exactly what the legislation says," he said. "It just seems to be another way that the other side is trying to block our efforts to move early education in a new direction that we believe is an improvement."

It's unclear whether Manning's order could force the Republican-controlled legislature to redo part of the state budget.

Republican leaders have said that they don't believe it will have an impact and that implementing the order would require pulling money from other educational programs.

Manning has said only that he is confident the state will live up to its constitutional duties to afford every child a good, basic education.

Robert Orr, the former Supreme Court justice who wrote the Leandro II ruling, says the court clearly defined the role of pre-kindergarten programs when it comes to the constitutional right for a sound, basic education.

He says the court clearly defined the role of pre-kindergarten programs when it comes to the constitutional right for a sound, basic education.

"All of these at-risk kids need to at least have this opportunity to attend a pre-K program," Orr said. "If this particular law does, in fact, violate the constitution, then it cannot be enforced."

102 Comments

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  • Harrison Bergeron Jul 21, 5:53 p.m.

    bill0,

    Thanks for the lesson, but, unfortunately, you aren't seeing that the groups here are 1. Low-income children who participate in Head Start, and 2. Low-income children who do not.

    Why? Because, this was an Impact Study. You are the only one trying to turn it into a comparison between Head Start and daycare. Your corncern only makes sense if ALL low-income children have only a choice between the two. As an aside, you are also making an unsubstantiated assumption that all parent care produces better results than in-service care.

    Head Start has made NO lasting positive impact to the community it serves.

  • affirmativediversity Jul 21, 2:49 p.m.

    Head Start/More at 4 is a giant waste of money! It should be eliminated and any funds that were reallocated from real education programs should be given back to them.

    Daycare is daycare and the Department of Public Education should not be in the daycare business.

  • bill0 Jul 21, 2:20 p.m.

    "I don't know how much clearer I can make this: The study directly compares the effects of Head Start to ALL the other options that are available if Head Start didn't exist. "

    You keep stating that in various forms, but you apparently don't understand statistics and how to compare groups. The More at Four group is self selecting because it ONLY has people who are going to use some sort of outside-the-home program. If you want to make ANY statistical comparisons, you need to do it with a comparable group of people. Not 2/3 comparable - 100% comparable. When you are looking for small variations between samples, the fact that 33% of one sample shouldn't be in the comp group is a HUGE problem.

    It would be like saying a medicine performed no better than a placebo but then admitting that 1/3 of your "placebo" group was actually taking another medication that is known to be effective. It completely skews the results.

  • Harrison Bergeron Jul 21, 1:59 p.m.

    "No. It compares people who wouldn't be in the program - kids with stay at home moms - to kids who are in the program. That isn't "absence", that is a whole other group.

    The questions we need to ask are "Is a More at Four style program more effective than a traditional preschool?"

    I don't know how much clearer I can make this: The study directly compares the effects of Head Start to ALL the other options that are available if Head Start didn't exist.

    You are effectively ignoring the 2/3 of the control group that WAS in some form of alternate service. Your attempt to narrow the study to sub-group performance is not only a red herring, but incorrect.

    By offering NO lasting cognitive improvements for its participants, Head Start is a BUST. Simply put, the Billions that have been spent would have been equally effective if we stacked it into a giant pile of money and lit it on fire.

  • bill0 Jul 21, 1:34 p.m.

    "It compares its efficacy to its absence, which it does well. "

    No. It compares people who wouldn't be in the program - kids with stay at home moms - to kids who are in the program. That isn't "absence", that is a whole other group.

    The questions we need to ask are "Is a More at Four style program more effective than a traditional preschool? If so, how much are we willing to pay for that benefit?" The answer to the first question is a yes. The second question is up for political debate.

  • timbo10.0 Jul 21, 12:56 p.m.

    "The reality of the situation is that kids who get to spend full time with a loving parent do better in school. "

    Source please?

  • superman Jul 21, 12:34 p.m.

    Do they have a program for 2 and 3 year olds? Inquiring minds want to know! How about they just eliminate the program? They are no jobs in the USA and they wont be any for many years to come with the exception of fast food. Teach the students in school how to flip a burger and work the cash register. There isnt anything left for them to do. Thousands of college graduates are without work and they laying off more people every day.

  • Garnerwolf1 Jul 21, 11:30 a.m.

    Last stats I saw were that 1 in 4 was a single parent home. 5 of 6 of these single parents were women, and over 48% of single parent homes were black. Not sure if these stats are accurate but it's what I read. If they are anywhere close to correct, it's no wonder lil Johnny can't read.

  • Harrison Bergeron Jul 21, 11:26 a.m.

    “However, you ...should exclude them when you are trying to compare how a particular program compares to a traditional daycare.” –bill0

    That’s just it – your assumption regarding the purpose of the study is wrong. It compares its efficacy to its absence, which it does well.

    The true reality of the situation is that the ever-increasing wail of excuses from the do-gooders crescendos to a single word: “MORE!”

    If we only had MORE time with the children, with MORE pre-natal involvement, and MORE services after-school, for MORE of their school years. Until eventually, the following solution must logically proceed:

    If only the State could limit the home-life to a careful, pre-natal, controlled incubation. From there, the upbringing of the child would be completely under control of Those Who Know What’s Best, all the way into adulthood. (Pre-)Cradle-to-Grave care.

    And there’s the rub, what would ultimately be required to elevate them permanently is financially unfe

  • seankelly15 Jul 21, 11:16 a.m.

    Garnerwolf1 - "at-risk" is a term used to describe children who may have issues that would affect a positive developmental outcome. The issues could be congenital or socio-environmental.

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