Smart Start supporters protest cuts

Posted May 26, 2011

Advocates for Smart Start, North Carolina's nationally-recognized early childhood program, spoke out today against cuts to the program included in the budget proposal that's expected to pass the Senate next week. 

"A lot of people have commented on how the House budget and the Senate budget disproportionately decreases services to children and families and in particular, those who are less fortunate," said House Minority Leader Joe Hackney. "That is particularly the case with our Smart Start program and the cuts to it."

Smart Start began under Democratic Governor Jim Hunt, and it's long been a target of conservatives who say the program is bloated and top-heavy with administration. 

The House spending plan proposed to cut the program's funding by 20%. The Senate proposal would keep that cut, and would also shut down the central office that administers the program, the NC Partnership for Children. Instead, Smart Start would be merged into the Division of Child Development, and local administration programs would lose more than half of their operational funds.  

Senate budget writers say it makes sense to cut the program's administrative costs and use the money for services instead.  But Partnership Chairman Dr. Olson Huff said gutting the administration would effectively shut down the program, which has been hailed as a national and global model for early childhood education. 

"Make no mistake about it," Huff said. "The actions that have been taken in the budget of the Senate would dismantle Smart Start." Olson Huff Smart Start supporters cry foul

Huff said Senate leaders who say they want to improve K-12 education should reconsider the cuts. "You do not build a house by starting at the second story. You've got to build the foundation first," Huff said. "That's what Smart Start does."

"Cutting services for our children at a time when we need their skills and abilities the most is not the right way to go," he added.  

Watch the whole press conference at right. 


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  • racoats1 May 27, 2011

    root cause analysis: answer the question why these children are at a disadvantage? Then when you answer that question, then you know what to fix. Family values are very important. Smart Start can't teach family values.

  • racoats1 May 27, 2011

    sideskimberly- i am not saying it is all black children in Smart Start. But, when you see the protesters and the NAACP protesting about it and other cuts, they make it racial. As far as bussing children from their neighborhood schools across the county to sit in school with higher performing children only brings up the average grades for the class as a whole and not actually bringing up the students who are bussed in grades. They go back home to where the parents or family care less about the child living in an environment that focuses on education and succeeding. The parents need to attend community colleges or get books from libraries and read up on strategies in helping their children. It takes self determination and take on of responsibility. It is easier to blame it on the teacher or the rich kids or the school system. My question is, are these students honestly making better grades on their own or are the other students just pulling up the general average?

  • racoats1 May 27, 2011

    The gov should not tak over responsibilities ofthe parents to prepare their children for an education. The system will never be fixed while you have teenagers out there have babies and not caring for them. This goes for blacks and whites. These children arenot havin the desire 4 educ n bettering themselves by instillg in them while they are in the impressionable stages of life. I the children continually see their parents not caring and making poor choices, then that becomes a cycle and the children will keep the cycle going. Time these folks complaining and want the tax payers to pay for what the families should be doing in the first place is going too far. A generation of children have now had the opportunity to go to school, amply selves, and get a good education. Many chose not to. many children who come from low income and uneducated families but these children had the drive to study,to do home work, apply self, set goals&achieve insteadof not trying and blameforlack of success

  • elliesmom May 27, 2011

    Yes, Smart Start helps low income families afford quality child care, but the program also helps parents learn effective parenting strategies (heads up: not all parents grew up with June and Ward Cleaver as role models), helps families at risk for child abuse become functional families (keeping kids out of foster care) and assists child care centers improve their quality of care by educating child care providers. The program allows individual counties to identify where their weaknesses are in relation to children under 5 and develop strategies for addressing those problems. BECAUSE it is not just throwing money at the problem, Smart Start has an administration that ensures state money given to each county is spent appropriately and that each local partnership office is fiscally responsible. So now we'll take all that and give a wad of cash to an overworked DCD so they can throw money at the problem with no accountability. Wow. That's a great move.

  • 1 awesome Dad May 27, 2011

    How come the prisoners dont get cut but the children do?? Thanks Phil for your quality leadership in a time of need like this.

  • AlbertEinstein May 27, 2011

    A very good example of yet another entitlement program that provides little value for the majority. Chop and move on.

  • thaylin May 27, 2011

    @racoats1 In the 60s, 70s, 80s and most of the 90s you did not have many single parent families, or families where both parents needed to work. Now in most cases the husband and the wife need to work, if a family is lucky enough to have both. When one parent stays home it is easy to instill the need for an education. When both work it is infinitely harder.

    In addition it is vastly more important to us as a state and a nation that these folks get an education, they will be the leaders while we are at home retired. To a family it is only money for that child that he may miss out on, for the state and above it is the leadership that we will miss out on.

    As for taking responsibility I generally agree with you, however should we allow the child to suffer because the parent neglected their responsibility to them? If that parent does not teach that child responsibility then how can we hold that child later to a higher standard their there parents could achieve.

  • sideskimberly May 27, 2011

    I think that my calling is educating those who are here I go.How are you equating Smart Start with young parents and the NAACP. Smart Start is a service for the under privileged, not young Black parents, because that is what you were insinuating. If you go to the Smart Start website the faces of the "under privileged" is of two White children. But I am an educated Black woman and I am smart enough to know that "under privileged" does not have a color or an age. With today's economy "under privileged" is anyone who has lost their job and struggling to make ends meet. Obviously someone did their research and realized that waiting until a child turns six or seven is too late to begin a "formal" education. Yes, a parent must begin to educate their child before their formal education begins, but parents can't teach their children the lessons that they learn from interacting with their peers. They learn norms not only from home but from society. So get off your high horse and

  • racoats1 May 26, 2011

    It is my opinion that there has been enough time for parents to take on the responsibility of getting their children ready for school. Growing up, we did not have kindergarten. We straight in to the first grade and guess what, some of us went on to become doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, PhDs, etc. Since 1965 all people have had equal access to a free and public education. These young folks having children and not instilling in the their children the importance of education is the root of the problem. These folks need to take responsibilty, the NAACP instead of protesting and cry babying, should use their resources to go into these areas and help these "under privileged" young parents how to help their children value an education and help the children learn. I am sick of a society where people do not want to take responsibility for their own shortcomings. It is always someone else's fault.