Rev. Dr. William Barber, President of the North Carolina NAACP, called on state 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 pre-kindergarten.
In a letter that Barber and allies hand delivered to the offices of House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, Barber said that:
“We believe many parents and their children, particularly in low-wealth counties, were told by school authorities that they could not enroll in More at Four programs this fall because of the obstacles your legislation created. It is now your duty to take immediate steps to make sure each school district complies with its constitutional duty, namely to make sure every parent, guardian and advocate of every at-risk four year old knows they can enroll NOW in a nearby More at Four program, with no government impediments. Such impediments are unconstitutional. Since it was your legislation that put our public schools in violation of the Constitution, you are responsible for correcting the violation….
We know the system is stacked against these vulnerable, voiceless children. If you ppeal this decision, it will probably take the rest of this school year for the Supreme Court to rule, thus causing this year’s at-risk four year olds to lose their constitutional rights and the proven benefits of the head start this program affords….
Get our state in compliance with our Constitution. If you need a special session, we are sure Governor Perdue will work with you to set one.”
Barber is right. It’s shameful that state leaders continue to ignore court rulings on this subject and the time for action is now.