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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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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

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House Bill 935, NC Pre-Kindergarten Law Changes, faced little opposition in the House’s Health and Human Services committee this morning. The bill passed 14-4.

HB 935 would lessen the number of low-income children eligible for the state’s award-winning Pre-K program by changing the definition of “at-risk” children. Previously, those who were determined to be at-risk, and thus eligible for pre-kindergarten, fell into one of three categories:

  • A child with an identified disability as indicated by the child having a current Individualized Education Plan (IEP);
  • A child of an active duty member of the Armed Forces, or a child of a deceased Armed Forces member; or
  • A child whose family’s gross income was at or below approximately 200%

     of the federal poverty guidelines.

The bill seeks to change that last criterion by reducing the maximum gross income to just 100%, or $19,500 for a family of three. Rep. Burr, sponsor of the bill, explained that this move would better serve “those truly at-risk children.”

This change would block more than a third of current participants, or about 10,000 children, from accessing pre-kindergarten. The average cost of high quality pre-K is around $1,000/month. It would be unlikely for a family of three making $25,000/year to be able to shoulder that cost.

Rep. Insko was the only vocal opponent of the bill, explaining to her colleagues that “we are not taking care of the future of this state if we don’t make sure these kids are ready for kindergarten…we must invest in our children.”

Rob Thompson, Executive Director of the Covenant with North Carolina’s Children, said in a press release after the bill passed,“Pre-kindergarten is an investment in our future workforce. We need to look for ways to expand access to NC Pre-K, not narrow it.”

The bill will now move on to the House floor.

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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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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