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Farmworker pre-K(This post is part of a blog series on the crucial role of quality early childhood education and child care in caring for our youngest residents, creating thriving communities, and promoting a healthy economy. Read the introduction to this blog series and learn more about the programs we?ll be discussing here.)

By John Menditto

In this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama announced a bold and ambitious plan to expand preschool services. The “Preschool for All” Initiative calls for $75 billion in new funding during the next decade to partner with states and help expand access to low- and middle-income children who are not currently enrolled in preschool programs.

Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, has been tireless in his advocacy for this new, national initiative. Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with Secretary Duncan as part of a small coalition of community-based groups who serve the Latino community and ask him how the Administration would make sure that the Preschool for All Initiative did not exclude by its design the preschool-aged children of migrant farm workers. Secretary Duncan assured the group that “Preschool for All” meant exactly that: there would be no asterisk excepting out farmworker families. He invited those in attendance to provide the Administration with information on how to design preschool services to ensure the children of farmworker families did not lose out on the benefits of a preschool education.  Read More

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The good people at the Covenant with North Carolina’s Children just released this statement on the Berger budget plan:

Senate budget short-changes NC’s children
Budget would cut funding for early education and K-12 schools and remove cap on class size

RALEIGH – Late Sunday night, Senate budget writers released their 2014-15 budget proposal, which includes deep cuts to education, early care and infant mortality prevention.

“This budget continues the ongoing deterioration of our public school system,” stated Rob Thompson, Executive Director of the Covenant with North Carolina’s Children. “If the Senate is serious about improving student outcomes, then underfunding schools and removing the cap on class size are the last things it should do.”

In addition to deep cuts in K-12 education, the Senate budget appears to cut the Smart Start early education program by 42%.[1] Read More

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Professor Sean Reardon of Stanford University has a fascinating article in the New York Times today (“No Rich Child left Behind”) about what really lies at the root of the growing achievement gap in the American education system.

Here are some of his findings:

  • The gap between poor and rich kids is growing.
  • The gap is not about race as much as it is about income.
  • The gap is not a product of “failing” schools; average American are smarter and perform better than their parents.
  • Much of the gap is attributable to early childhood education — especially the challenging and stimulating upbringings that wealthy parents are providing to their pre-school children.
  • The gap appears to be self-reinforcing; smarter, higher achieving kids end up with better, higher-paying jobs and the wherewithal to help their children.
  • Improving our early childhood parenting may be even more important than improving our schools and teachers.

Read Reardon’s entire article by clicking here. It’s clearly food for thought. 

 

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So you know the right-wing-talk radio-NC General Assembly leadership talking point  by now: “Unemployed North Carolinians don’t need unemployment insurance or other safety net programs; they just need to get out there and get a job! If people would just suck it up like people did in the good ol’ days, we wouldn’t have 9% unemployment in this state.”

There are so many offensive and absurd implications of this “argument” that it’s hard to know where to begin in responding to it. One obvious place, however, is this:

What about the kids?

How does a person with young children at home go about taking on just any low-wage, hamburger-flipping job? Amazing as it many seem to folks on Right-Wing Avenue, not every parent of young children has a grandparent hanging around waiting to help raise their kids for free. These people need affordable child care.

Sadly, this obvious truth that long ago dawned on the leaders of most of the world’s industrialized nations still escapes the corporate conservatives who dominate American government. For a case in point, check out NC Policy Watch reporter Sarah Ovaska’s story this morning over on the main PW site.  As Sarah reports, Read More

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The Guv expands Pre-K. This is from the good folks at the Covenant with North Carolina’s Children:

Perdue expands NC Pre-K to 6,300 additional children
Decision is first step to comply with court mandate

RALEIGH – This morning, Governor Perdue announced that she will make NC Pre-K available to an additional 6,300 children. This move marks the state’s first attempt to comply with the recent Court of Appeals ruling that no at-risk child shall be denied access to NC Pre-K. Currently, there is a waitlist of 11,678 children for the program.

“Governor Perdue’s decision means that over 6,000 more children will enter Kindergarten better prepared to succeed in school and in life,” stated Rob Thompson, Executive Director of the Covenant with North Carolina’s Children. “We hope that the legislature will extend funding for these slots when it reconvenes in January.” Read More