Governor Beverly Perdue vowed to fight for Smart Start funding at the nonprofit’s Leadership Symposium held yesterday at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh. Perdue pledged her support to an audience of more than 150Smart Start leaders at the organization’s professional development event, which took place just miles from where House members were deciding how much to fund the early education initiative. A longtime champion of Smart Start, Perdue, said that investments in early education benefit all North Carolinians and that supporters should call their legislators.
“I believe that Smart Start is an important investment because it is an investment in our future. You have to do right by starting early,” Perdue said. “I will stand with you and fight for Smart Start.”
Smart Start, North Carolina’s early education initiative, began under Governor Jim Hunt 16 years ago and has grown to become a nationally-recognized, model program. For nearly a decade, the state has reduced its allocation to the nonprofit, resulting in fewer services that improve the state’s early childhood system and that provide support for families with young children.
While scientists and economists agree that investments in children’s early growth and development offer the best return on the dollar, early education receives far less funding than K-12 and higher education. North Carolina per capita spending for early education is $641 compared to $4,889 for K-12 and $6,549 for higher education.
With a $10 million cut to Smart Start proposed by the Senate and the House budget still in the works, Governor Perdue urged Smart Start supporters to contact legislators and let them know that investments in early education matter to voters and should matter to every citizen.
“You understand that all of us, not some of us, all of us have a stake in the future of a child,” Perdue said. “This isn’t just doing good, it’s doing right.”
We’ll be posting the Governor’s speech to YouTube shortly.