**This post was authored by Elizabeth Queen, an intern with the Justice Center’s Workers’ Rights Project
Today’s “walk in” highlights the recent hits to North Carolina’s public education system, from funneling desperately needed public school funding into private school vouchers to failing to adequately compensate teachers for their hard work to educate our children. We support our public school teachers today, and are also spending this entire week spotlighting the programs that serve our youngest state residents and their families.
North Carolina has had one of the best pre-k programs in the country for years. However, despite national praise for this high-quality, cost-effective program (which, by the way, North Carolina is required by court order to provide to all at-risk 4-year-olds as part of these at-risk children’s constitutional right to a sound basic education ), the General Assembly has tried to limit access to this vital foundation for lifelong learning through cuts in the number of pre-k slots available and a proposed shift in the definition of “at-risk” that would allow the State to exclude some of NC’s most vulnerable kids from services. Without the essential building block of pre-k, children are far more likely to experience obstacles throughout the rest of their education and even into adulthood. And taxpayers are far more likely to pay the price for special education, involvement with the criminal justice system, and assistance from welfare programs for children who do not receive early childhood education.
But North Carolina’s early education programs are not the only family-supporting programs that are underfunded. Read More