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Court rules for kids; time for lawmakers to stop fooling around

A three-judge panel of the North Carolina Court of Appeals issued a unanimous ruling this morning upholding Superior Court Judge Howard Manning’s ruling from the summer of last year that:

“The State of North Carolina shall not deny any eligible at-risk four year old admission to the North Carolina Pre-Kindergarten Program (NCPK) and shall provide the quality services of the NCPK to any eligible at-risk four year old that applies.”

The court also upheld Manning’s decision to invalidate state budget provisions that interfere with such a result.

It’s clearly time for the General Assembly to stop stonewalling on this constitutional mandate and appropriate the money necessary to do this critical job NOW. 

 

5 Comments

  1. Rob Schofield

    August 21, 2012 at 11:35 am

    The Covenant with North Carolina’s Children just weighed in with a news release:

    State Court of Appeals rules that state cannot deny any “at-risk” four year old admission into NC Pre-K: Ruling affirms Manning decision

    RALEIGH – The State Court of Appeals issued its ruling this morning on the most recent iteration of the ongoing Leandro case. In its decision, the Court upheld Judge Howard Manning’s ruling that the state has a constitutional obligation to provide pre-kindergarten to all “at-risk” four-year-olds.

    “This is great news for North Carolina’s children and families,” stated Rob Thompson, Executive Director of the Covenant with North Carolina’s Children. “Study after study shows that when children receive a high-quality early education, they do better in school and in life.”

    Despite the clarity of the ruling, much uncertainty remains regarding access to NC Pre-K.

    “The ball is now in the Legislature’s court,” continued Thompson. “Will it comply with the ruling and fully fund access to NC Pre-K? Will it appeal the ruling to the State Supreme Court? The reaction of legislative leaders will be the most important thing to monitor in the coming days and weeks.”

    Specifically, the Court rejected the legislature’s claim that Judge Manning overstepped his authority by mandating open access to NC Pre-K as the sole remedy to educating at-risk four year olds:

    “Under Leandro II, the State has a duty to prepare all “at-risk” students to avail themselves of an opportunity to obtain a sound basic education. Pre-kindergarten is the method in which the State has decided to effectuate its duty, and the State has not produced or developed any alternative plan or method.”

    During the 2011-12 school year, NC Pre-k served just over 26,000 children. Another 40,000 children were eligible for the program, but not enrolled due to a lack of funding.

    ###

  2. Frank Burns

    August 22, 2012 at 6:13 am

    Can the citizens of NC afford the luxury of free day care? I suggest we eliminate all spending for Pre K. Those funds would be better used elsewhere.

  3. wncgirl

    August 22, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Where Frank? for profit prisons? overpaid senate staffers for Tillis whose main accomplishment is to party like rock stars? maybe the asphalt lobby would like more action? self serving Republicans will always find a way to spend taxpayer money on expensive gimmes to their lobbying interests, but the poor kids nah – let them pulll themselves up by their teeny-tiny boot straps-

  4. Frank Burns

    August 22, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    wncgirl,
    It is their parents responsibility to teach their kids how to blow their nose and tie their shoes not the State of NC. How about using these funds for actual education like community colleges and high schools? The Legislature better not come to the taxpayers and ask for more funds just because of this judge’s ruling. This ladies and gentlemen is how programs grow and grow and everybody expects the taxpayers to pony up. A program gets started as an experiment then mushrooms and with judicial activism it grows even more. No more, we’re sick and tired of the taxes in NC.

  5. […] legislative leaders this morning to take immediate action to place the state in compliance with the recent ruling issued by the North Carolina Court of Appeals regarding access of at-risk four year olds to publicly-funded […]