Today, Governor Perdue sent a letter to legislative leadership asking them to create over 6000 new NC Pre-K (formerly More at Four) to comply with Judge Manning’s order that all at-risk four-year-olds have access to the program. Additionally, the Governor released a plan from DHHS to add an additional 36,000 slots over the next four years.
Dr. Olson Huff, Board Chair of The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc.
“In asking for funds to provide more at-risk children with quality preschool, Governor Perdue is heeding Superior Court Judge Howard Manning’s decision in the ongoing Leandro case. Throughout the decision, Judge Manning emphasized the importance of early education, calling particular attention to Smart Start, North Carolina’s early childhood system that serves children birth to five. “’Put another way, each at-risk child under age 4 that is receiving services from Smart Start will be better prepared, physically and developmentally, to benefit from NCPK’s educationally based prekindergarten programs when they arrive at age 4.’ Judge Manning wrote.
Higher third grade test scores, higher high school graduation rates, and better job skills require an investment in children beginning at birth. Unfortunately, large cuts to Smart Start and More at Four (now NC PreK) during the last legislative session were a step back from North Carolina’s long standing commitment to young children. We’ve heard from families around the state regarding how devastating this has been for their children and their communities. Today, at last provides some good news.”