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Words of wisdom on pre-K decision

In case you missed them. here are two responses worth checking out this morning to last week’s state Supreme Court’s decision on pre-K and the General Assembly’s typically thickheaded response. First, there is this excellent editorial from this morning’s Fayetteville Observer:

“North Carolina’s legislative leaders, having stepped out of the path of an oncoming train, now wish to be hailed for their splendid judgment.

According to the state Supreme Court, the sound, basic education guaranteed by our state constitution includes pre-kindergarten preparation for those who need it. Had the legislature possessed splendid judgment, or even moderately good judgment, it would not have cut spending for North Carolina Pre-K by 20 percent, demanded a co-pay from eligible financially disadvantaged families or capped enrollment in 2011.

Naturally, a lawsuit resulted.

Last week, the high court dismissed the case, explaining that it was moot because the lawmakers had retreated from their untenable position in 2012, dropping the cap and the co-pay. That makes sense. The issues raised in the suit are moot.

Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, welcomed the ruling as “a clear affirmation of the General Assembly’s central role in shaping education policy – and the size and scope of North Carolina’s pre-K program.” That would make sense, too, if the plaintiffs had disputed the legislature’s central role. But what they disputed was its discretion to be negligent in that role and ignore the mandates laid down in 2004 (when, for the benefit of partisan scorekeepers, Republicans were in the majority on the high court).

What’s been clearly affirmed is that the lawmakers are hostile to the pre-K program and would rather not have one that serves all those who need it.

The court offered them no such choice….”

Read the rest of the editorial by clicking here.

And, in case you missed it, child advocate Rob Thompson of the Covenant with North Carolina’s Children issued this common sense statement last week:

“Ruling is disappointing, but General Assembly still has a responsibility to invest in early education

This afternoon, the NC Supreme Court issued a decision vacating rulings by lower courts that require the state to accept all at-risk four-year-olds who apply for the NC Pre-k program.

While the Court’s decision is disappointing, it doesn’t absolve legislators from their responsibility to do what’s best for the state and invest in the education of young children. We know that early education works and we know that NC Pre-k works. Specifically, studies by the Frank Porter Graham Institute show that children who participate in NC Pre-k have higher third grade math and reading scores than those who do not participate (follow the link below). With North Carolina’s renewed emphasis on third grade achievement, it makes sense for legislators to embrace NC Pre-k despite today’s ruling.

http://www.fpg.unc.edu/sites/fpg.unc.edu/files/resources/reports-and-policy-briefs/MAF_EOG_full_report.pdf

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