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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

NC Budget and Tax Center, Poverty and Policy Matters

Education is perhaps the most promising public investment for promoting long-term economic prosperity. That’s why providing low-income children access to preschool and providing a high-quality education to all students in North Carolina’s public schools is vital to our state’s future.

Yet, policymakers have introduced education bills that inconsistently define “poverty” and “at-risk” in ways that would reduce access to early learning for low-income 4-year olds and divert needed public school funding to private schools. Read More

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Pre-K

The week started off with somewhat good news: on its third reading, the bill that would limit access to the state’s award winning pre-K programs for at-risk students passed with slightly better terms than expected.

Lawmakers modified HB 935 at the last minute to fund pre-K classes for children whose familiChartersVouchersandprayerses make 130 percent of the federal poverty level — roughly $31,000 a year for a family of four. A previous version of the bill set the threshold at 100 percent of the federal poverty level. The amended version also delays the date the bill would become law by one year, because the operation of roughly half of all pre-K programs that are currently located in local public school districts must be turned over to private pre-K providers, a significant logistical hurdle.

The pre-K bill now heads to the Senate.

Charter schools

After winding its way through several committee hearings, the full Senate finally got to debate Sen. Jerry Tillman’s SB 337, a bill that would create a new independent charter school oversight board and set what has turned out to be contentious policies for public charter schools. Read More

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The good people at Action NC and Progress NC are out with some new poll results courtesy of Public Policy Polling. The poll asked North Carolina voters four questions about education policy during the last week of  April. Here’s the Action NC release:

Majority of NC voter oppose school vouchers, limiting pre-K
New poll finds strong opposition to many forms of education disinvestment currently under consideration at General Assembly

Raleigh – More than 60 percent of North Carolina voters oppose a school voucher plan currently under consideration at the General Assembly, according to a new poll just released by Action NC and Progress NC. Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

Yet again, North Carolina legislators are moving a bill (HB 935) through the House chamber that would limit participation in NC Pre-K, the state’s nationally-ranked public pre-kindergarten program. The bill would lower the “at-risk” eligibility standard to 100 percent of the federal poverty line (FPL), which is $23,550 for a family of four. The current income threshold is set at three-fourths of the state median income, or nearly one-third higher than the FPL for a family of four. Even the existing threshold falls short. Research shows that families up to, and sometimes above, twice the FPL experience many of the same material hardship as families who are poor, meaning they too struggle to make ends meet and secure the basics for their children.

A change in the income threshold would close the door on early learning for approximately one-third—or 10,000—of the children currently enrolled in the NC Pre-K program. There are nearly 11,700 children on the waiting list. Read More