Rockingham Business & Technology Center Director Asks Legislators to Support Smart Start

As North Carolina legislators threaten cutting Smart Start funding by 20% and making debilitating changes to the initiative, early education advocates from all walks of life are speaking out. Below are portions of a letter from Mark Wells, Executive Director of the Rockingham Business and Technology Center.

Dear Representatives Holloway and Jones,

I am writing you to ask that the NC House of Representatives reconsider its current budget reductions and mission change for Smart Start. I am doing this from three separate perspectives: first as a parent of preschool-aged children who utilizes the fantastic services of Smart Start through the Rockingham County Partnership for Children; second as a member of the economic development framework for Rockingham County; and third as a 5-year member of the Evaluations/Allocations committee of the Rockingham County Partnership for Children. I’ll address each.

(letter continues)

Second, education is the number one driver of economic development. I’m sure you are fully aware that our public school system in the United States is broken. It is so broken that my wife and I, like Representative Jones and his wife, have decided to home school our kids. That said, Smart Start is not broken. In fact, it is a model for early childhood education across the nation. So much attention is placed on K-12 education and how to “fix” the system and the kids within it. A large part of the problem, though, is that kids who have not received the appropriate foundation from birth will likely lag throughout every grade of K-12. Some important facts that I have learned through Smart Start is that by age three a child’s emotional stability is largely set for life. By age four, their ability to learn language is largely set for life. By age five, their ability to learn math is largely set for life. We often hear discussion about improving STEM education in K-20 schools, but if children never receive the proper foundation from birth, these efforts are likely to fail. A core issue we face in Rockingham County, and Stokes for Representative Holloway, is educational attainment of our population. In the manufacturing heydays, individuals could earn a good living with little to no formal education. Those days are long gone, and our economies are suffering. Stripping Smart Start of adequate funding will only compound this issue.

(letter concludes)

Thank you for the opportunity to communicate with you regarding funding for Smart Start. I respect the difficulty of your job, especially in these fiscal times, but I hope you and the entire House see that stifling Smart Start will be like removing the bricks from the foundation of a house. Without them, our future economy may crumble.

Respectfully yours,

Mark Wells
Executive Director
Rockingham Business & Technology Center

Take Action!Tell senators your stories this week. Show them what the impact of such a significant cut will mean in your communities. Let them know that families put children first and our government needs to do the same. Without a priority for growing the next generation of productivity, North Carolina has a deficit strategy, not a growth strategy.

• Senator Phil Berger, President Pro Tempore
(919) 733-5708 or (336) 623-5210, Phil.Berger@ncleg.net

• Senator Peter S. Brunstetter, Senate Appropriations Co-Chair
(919) 733-7850 or (336) 747-6604, Peter.Brunstetter@ncleg.net

• Senator Neal Hunt, Senate Appropriations Co-Chair
(919) 733-5850 or (919) 781-3464, Neal.Hunt@ncleg.net

• Senator Richard Stevens, Senate Appropriations Co-Chair
(919) 733-5653 or (919) 851-0228, Richard.Stevens@ncleg.net

• Senator Stan Bingham, Senate HHS Appropriations Co-Chair
(919) 733-5665 or (336) 859-0999, Stan.Bingham@ncleg.net

• Senator Louis Pate, Senate HHS Appropriations Co-Chair
(919) 733-5621 or (919) 658-3637, Louis.Pate@ncleg.net

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