Editorial: Legislators need to follow Cooper's lead on early-child funding
Wednesday, June 19, 2019 -- North Carolina's children, particularly those most vulnerable because of poverty or geography, are being left behind. Their opportunities to become successful learners are diminished. Legislative leaders can show their "good faith" to negotiate over the budget by publicly committing to fully-fund what Cooper has outlined as the state's pre-K needs.Investing in early childhood education makes sense. It makes kids better learners and leads to more opportunities for their futures.Posted — Updated
Here are the facts:
- 61 percent of North Carolina 4th graders are not proficient in reading.
- 76 percent of all four-year olds are NOT enrolled in a pre-K program.
- 58 percent of 3 and 4-year olds, eligible for state-funded support, are NOT in a pre-K program. The portion of these children in some form of educational program has DROPPED, after 20 years of “significant improvement.”
- 6,000 pre-K slots were cut from 2011 through 2017.
- Per-child pre-K spending has dramatically dropped. It was $7,679 in 2002 and $5,428 last year. Considering inflation, the spending drop is worth $5,481 – a 50 percent cut.
It is not a record of accomplishment. This is a legacy of neglect. We are past time to reverse the trend.
The truth is unavoidable. North Carolina’s children, particularly those most vulnerable because of poverty or geography, are being left behind. Their opportunities to become successful learners are diminished.
Last week legislative leaders “invited” Gov. Roy Cooper’s “participation in negotiations over the state budget,” to provide “input,” seek “common ground” and “compromise.” That’s a good idea -- and we hope they’re serious -- because chances are Cooper will veto the legislature’s budget.
There should be quick agreement on this matter. This is not an area to compromise. Legislative leaders can show their “good faith” to negotiate over the budget by publicly committing to fully-fund what Cooper has outlined as North Carolina’s pre-K needs.
Investing in early childhood education makes sense. It makes kids better learners and leads to more opportunities for their futures.
It is the right thing to do.
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