Commentary

Editorial laments sorry state of childcare, longs for days of Jim Hunt

The lead editorial in this morning’s Winston-Salem Journal tells it like it is in an editorial blasting the state-sponsored child abuse that is North Carolina’s ridiculously underfunded and overwhelmed childcare system. As the editorial explains, two decades after the progress issued in by former Gov. Jim Hunt and his signature program, Smart Start, neglect and conservative, trickledown economics have left the state with some dreadful stats:

“We miss Jim Hunt’s days as governor.

Hunt, who’s still speaking out for education, did a lot to help underprivileged children by establishing Smart Start, a public-private program that incorporated socialization, health care and some preschool academic preparation. Gov. Mike Easley, for all his faults in other areas, followed up by establishing More at Four, saying the state’s at-risk children needed early academic work.

Today, fewer than half of North Carolina’s children age 4 and younger are enrolled in a regulated child-care facility — either at a formal child-care center or in a regulated family child-care home — the Journal’s Arika Herrron reported recently, citing records from the N.C. Division of Child Development and Early Education.”

After citing some even more dreadful numbers from Forsyth County, including massive and growing waiting lists, the Journal puts it this way:

“Here are children who want to learn, and parents who want their children to learn. Here’s a state that is traditionally dedicated to quality education for all.

And here’s a state legislature that’s more interested in giving raises to UNC chancellors than providing preschool for 4-year-olds in working families. These priorities are skewed.”

The editorial takes a stab at a positive closing note by pointing out a new and ongoing study of the issue and expressing hope that it will help state legislators finally see the light. The problem, however, is that the people running North Carolina these days don’t really believe in publicly supported childcare, which they regard as socialist indoctrination.

In other words, caring and thinking people are not going to win this critical battle merely by reciting statistics about unnecessary human suffering. It’s going to continue to take  a sustained effort to win the ideological battle as well; North Carolinians must come to see that public structures and systems like  public education and public childcare are the foundations of a middle class society, not just charitable services that get tossed to a handful of poor folks.

Click here to read the entire editorial.

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