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Endorsing Perdue’s Pre-K move

With early voting underway there were plenty of political endorsements in North Carolina’s newspapers this past weekend, including two for Governor Bev Perdue. Perdue, of course, is not on the ballot; the endorsements were for her move last week to expand Pre-K education funding by $20 million.

Here’s what the Winston-Salem Journal had to say:

Before the cuts, North Carolina’s Pre-K program was rated as one of the five best in the U.S.

When House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger said in a statement that any spare money Perdue found should be used for Medicaid rather than “a temporary expansion of government day care,” they needlessly belittled this successful program.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Pat McCrory has expressed interest in education reform. Here’s a program that works. Many parents would choose to enroll their children if they could — there’s still a waiting list. We hope our next governor, whether it’s McCrory of Democrat Walter Dalton, will work with the legislature to continue to expand the program to its rightful place, for the sake of the children themselves and for a state that needs educated citizens and an educated workforce. Expansion is both practical and right.

And from the Wilmington Star News:

It is clear that Gov. Beverly Perdue intends to leave behind some kind of a legacy other than having the misfortune of leading the state during the aftermath of the nation’s worst recession in decades. Her announcement that her administration has allotted $20 million to enroll as many as 6,300 more children in pre-kindergarten programs will go a long way toward establishing her reputation as a champion of education.

Critics of Perdue’s decision contend that the unspent DHHS funds allotted to pre-K should be used to fill those other gaps.

But in a meeting with the publisher and other members of the StarNews staff Thursday afternoon, Perdue called the pre-K program “the best money that we can spend.”

She noted that widespread access to quality preschool regardless of family income is an issue of economic development as well as education. How true.

A number of highly regarded studies have shown that children enrolled in strong preschool programs have a far better chance of entering kindergarten on a level plane with their peers, and that the boost makes it more likely that they still will be working at grade level through third grade. Studies also show that children who are at grade level in third grade have a better chance than their still-behind peers of graduating from high school.

And high school graduates are less likely than their dropout peers to frequent the prison system and/or rely on long-term public assistance. They are more employable and have more options, including higher education and other job-training programs, available to them.

In other words, instead of costing the taxpayers millions of dollars, they have greater potential to become responsible, taxpaying citizens than those who drop out of school because they cannot keep up.

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