With the NC House set to vote this evening on legislation that would change the definition of “at-risk” and lower the number of children able to access Pre-K, the Fayetteville Observer weighs in this morning with an editorial questioning the wisdom of shutting out thousands of children:
‘The latest dodge, in a bill that advanced to the House floor last week, is to shed more of those needy children (about half) by redefining need: If a family of three has an income above $19,530 – about $6,500 per year per member – it isn’t low-income anymore. The lawmakers disqualified another group in its entirety: those from homes where English isn’t spoken. That standard simply vanished.
Gov. Pat McCrory has positioned himself to bargain for a less stringent low-income standard and wants to admit 5,000 new participants. Good for him. But the legislature long ago excluded 11,000 with its chicanery. Their opportunity for an even start with their peers was lost. And tens of thousands wait, their needs going unmet.
Even if the governor gets everything his budget requests, thousands of children would be turned away under this bill’s provisions – not even counted among the unserved anymore, because the law would no longer take notice of them and their difficult circumstances.
Maybe that’s sound early-childhood education policy, but it bears closer resemblance to a vendetta.
Pre-kindergarten preparation for the disadvantaged doesn’t have a long track record in this state. But it’s highly regarded by educators and parents as they strain to provide the sound, basic education that our state constitution says is every child’s right.
This bill cannot be redeemed by amendments because its essence is bad. It should be rejected, resoundingly.’