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NC Democrats pan GOP plan for schools, Smart Start

Posted April 14, 2011

State budget

— House Democrats say the $1.2 billion in proposed education cuts for next year rolled out by their Republican counterparts this week are reckless and could lead to more than 20,000 job losses unless the GOP agrees to extend some of the temporary taxes set to expire.

Minority Leader Joe Hackney and others on Thursday derided the plan that the Department of Public Instruction says would eliminate money for more than 12,000 staff positions, more than two-thirds of them teacher assistants in the second and third grades.

"The proposed education budget cuts are stunningly massive and horrifyingly destructive," said Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland.

The North Carolina Association of Educators said several thousand more public school workers would lose their jobs through discretionary cuts placed upon local districts.

"This sets us way back," said Hackney, D-Orange. "The number of years that it sets us back, you could argue. Is it 20 years, 15 or 30?"

House Republican leaders blame the current crisis on the fiscal mismanagement of previous Democratic legislatures.

"Government must get real. We must live within our means," said Rep. Harold Brubaker, R-Randolph.

"This budget starts us on a process of reforming a public education system that has not worked well," said Rep. Hugh Blackwell, chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.

Advocates for early childhood education and women's health also criticized GOP plans to hold back funds for Smart Start and Planned Parenthood.

"These programs are absolutely critical," Millbrook Elementary School Principal Paula Trantham said of Smart Start and More at Four, noting low-income, at-risk children learn critical skills in the pre-kindergarten classes.

Smart Start program NC Democrats pan GOP plan for schools, Smart Start

"They know the basics to be successful in kindergarten. They know socially how to get along with others," Trantham said. "We don't want them to come in the door on the first day of kindergarten already behind."

Smart Start and More at Four face cuts of at least 30 percent in the House budget proposal. Even more alarming to some More at Four supporters is the possible shift of the program from the Department of Public Instruction to the Department of Health and Human Services.

"Moving it to the Division of Childhood Development, I think, would effectively end state-funded pre-kindergarten as we know it," said John Pruette, executive director of DPI's Office of Early Learning.

Pruette and others fear More at Four will become a day-care program instead of a childhood educational effort.

"If it turns out that way, I think that'll be a mistake, and I would be concerned about it," said Blackwell, R-Burke.

The University of North Carolina system would have to cut spending by 15 percent across its 17 campuses. Chancellor Holden Thorp said the $75 million cut to UNC-Chapel Hill would cause deep pain at the undergraduate level.

"It's too deep to manage without making qualitative changes in the programs the university offers, unless they come up with a way to provide revenue to fill the hole," Thorp said.

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  • weasel2 Apr 21, 2011

    Well, maybe preschool education and preparation will go back to the parents. Not like they have a job to go to in this economy.

  • aetius476 Apr 21, 2011

    "We don't have a spending problem, we have a revenue one." - melanie3

    Wow, if this individual is not brainwashed into the "grow govement at all cost" liberal propaganda I don't know who is. The problem is spending, the solution is to cut revenue and force a shrinkage in teh bloated behemoth goverment has become. You don't give more booze to an alcoholic and expect him to reform. Govement exisits just to enrich and enlarge itself. These bogus goverment provided daycare programs like Smart Start have been proven to offer little benefit. They are just wastes of money. Better to give poor women who are working vouchers for private daycare. Good grief!

  • visavisa21 Apr 15, 2011

    So easy for some of you to stand in your corner and say, "take care of your child", "it's nothing but babysitting", etc. when you really don't understand what exactly is at stake for these children. These children didn't choose to be born into a family that is economically disadvantaged or a family that may not truly value education. These children deserve the chance to be successful and without our help they will walk in the door to Kindergarten already far behind their peers. The peers whose parents can afford pre-k and offer tons of educational opportunities at home. It's not babysitting at all, it's a program that helps these kids catch up on what they've missed since the day they were born. A program that will educate them and help them to walk into Kindergarten at level or even a few steps ahead of level. If you feel burdened by this then you obviously don't care about the future of NC. Don't complain in years ahead about the # of dropouts - they'll be the pre-k kids of today.

  • Alex25 Apr 15, 2011

    Govt does NOT have its "own" money. Never has.

  • Alex25 Apr 15, 2011

    If you choose to become a parent - THEN TAKE CARE OF YOUR CHILD.

  • nighttrain2010 Apr 15, 2011

    >> Would you rather a child be, as you say, baby sat, at the hands of a preschool or at the hands of somebody's good for nothing boyfriend where the child could possibly be subjected to physical or mental abuse?

    Not my responsibility nor should I be burdened with the cost of raising someone else's child. Contrary to the government's excuses to steal more of my money, I don't live in the land of what-ifs. If you think it's such an issue, I suggest you donate YOUR money to the cause and help these children

  • Alex25 Apr 15, 2011

    These Programs are designed to get Mom's vote. Nothing more...

  • jkca Apr 15, 2011

    Smart Start may be a babysitting service to some folks but IT IS A PRESCHOOL program, with a curriculum, and the children do benefit from it. Should the children suffer because of views like yours? Would you rather a child be, as you say, baby sat, at the hands of a preschool or at the hands of somebody's good for nothing boyfriend where the child could possibly be subjected to physical or mental abuse? No matter how you perceive it, taking away these early childhood EDUCATIONAL programs will hurt the children more than the parents. We can't blame the kids for the actions and objective of their parents.

  • Defiant Apr 15, 2011

    Smart Start is nothing more than a babysitting service. Cut it and make parents pay for their kids' preschool like every other parent on this planet. Stop giving people an excuse to think they are entitled to these programs just for being born.

  • Lifeliving Apr 15, 2011

    My parents had to pay for me and my sister and also took me to pre school. SICK AND TIERD of folks getting stuff free! And then on top of free...they are most likely illegal! As an educator, the government school worry about k-12 education, if that, and it is time for PARENTS do their jobs and RAISE their kids and NOT depend on the government!!!

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