North Carolinians Tell Senators Why Early Education Matters

Why is early childhood education important in North Carolina? Smart Start posed this question and North Carolinians answered.  Below are just a few responses that were hand-written on postcards that are being delivered to Senators this week.

“Without strong early education, children in schools won’t meet standards in school, fail to graduate and continue higher education, the pool of qualified persons applying for jobs reduces, and workplaces aren’t as efficient and productive. Without early childhood education, our country is facing the ‘trickle-up deterioration of society.'”
– Adrienne R., Burlington, NC

No one who enters a race that forces them to start behind the start line can effectively compete and win. Our economic and social futurend depends on how ready our youngest citizens are to begin the race at the start line because isn’t a single perosn race–it’s a relay in which we all must participate as a team.”
-Andrea T., Wilmington, NC

Children who attend quality early childhood programs are more successful in public school. They are ready to learn and need less remediation to proceed. Reduction of funding to Smart Start and More At Four would put thousands of young children at risk of failure in future educational areas. Parents in low income areas will have fewer options for care to be able to work. For the state ecomony to grow, citizens must work!”
-Cheryl S., Canton, NC

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “North Carolinians Tell Senators Why Early Education Matters

  1. Lauren

    I agree that early education is important. However, I think our tax money should not be spent on children that come from wealthy families. There are families in Statesville that live in one of the nicest developments in town (3500 square feet homes). The mothers stay home but they are able to send their children to the More At Four program that is funded by tax payers. I send, and pay, for my daughter to go to preschool but it isn’t a full day nor funded by tax money. I think the More At Four program is a great program for families that are struggling or children with disabilities. However, I disagree with taking wealthy children and letting my hard earned money being used to fund it.

    • Stephen

      Around 90% of More at Four children in any year qualify for a free or reduced price lunch. Three-quarters qualify for a free lunch. Those who do not so qualify and are admitted to More at Four either have some kind of disability that challenges learning (and no doubt places pressure on the family budget) or are children of a serving military member. Priority is given to children who have never been previously served in a formal child-care setting. The focus of More at Four pre-k is to serve children from economically disadvantaged households or who face other significant challenges, be it a disability or longer-term absences of a military parent.

  2. Lauren

    Stephen, thanks for your response. I agree that children from economically disadvantaged households, disabilities, or long-term absences of a military parent should be able to send their children to a program like this to get them a head start on education. However, in Iredell County, this is definitely not always the circumstances in which the children are attending. I am not sure if the parents are being dishonest on their applications and not being checked behind or what. Their children are not at risk, disabled in any way, facing significant challenges nor have a parent that is away from the home serving our country. These are families where the husband has a well paying career. They live in very nice homes. They have other, younger siblings and the mother stays home. It has to do with not wanting to have the preschoolers all day and it is free childcare. How do I know?? It came straight from their mouths. There is another family where both parents hold good careers but More at Four is free and if they sent them to daycare it would be $600 per month.

    My issue is not with the ones that need it. I would give the shirt off my back to families that actually need it. I am not very conservative either. However, I do have a problem with the ones that abusing the system and always trying to get anything and everything they can for free. The economy nor the school’s budget will get any better when we have citizens that abuse the system and our tax dollars like this.

  3. Stephen

    Application fraud appears to be an American past-time for some, even for pre-kindergarten education. I’m sure the Office of Early Learning would value your evidence, Lauren.

    • Debbie

      The More at Four application requires two proofs of income from each employed person in the family. So, maybe the families are hiding income somehow either by not reporting both incomes because families must have below 75% of the state median income. They only consider income and not total family assets.

      The More at Four program may fill up to 20% of their slots with children who are above this income if the child has a risk factor, either limited English proficiency, identified disability, health risk or a developmental delay.

      It’s my experience that just because a child comes from a well to do family does not mean that they don’t have a learning need and sometimes that is not obvious to others. However, I’m sure like in everything there are people who manipulate the system to suit their own needs. It’s unfortunate because they are taking from others who may need the program.

      • Lauren

        If their situation is based on income then they are definitely not reporting all their earnings….not even close. If it is because of a learning need, I am curious how the children are evaluated. Basically, the ones that are raising a huge red flag to manipulating the system is a group of friends that all send their children there. A couple of the mothers have openly said that it is “free all day preschool” and that is their motivation in sending them.

        I completely agree that it is very unfortunate since they are taking from others who may need and benefit from the program. It is unfortunate that it is taking away from the schools K-12 by using the money in their budget as well. We all know how the school’s budget is right now!

    • Lauren

      Other than suggesting that they investigate and dig deeper into their proof of household income, I would not know what else to say. I don’t know the process of evaluation for the ones that are there for the risk factors, health risk, developmental delay, etc. I do know that a couple of the parents openly say that it is free preschool and that is their motivation in sending their children. I doubt that is enough to get their kids removed.

  4. Lou Anne Shackelford

    Any PreK classroom is much stronger when we have heter0geneous groups of children so universal PreK with certified teachers and assistants with no more than 15 in a classroom would be ideal. The M@4 model is working so well that it has been nationally recognized as a model program. It would be nice to have additional funding so families don’t have to misrepresent the economic part of getting into a quality PreK program. Kindergarten has a much more rigorous curriculum than 10 years agobecause of end of grade tests in third grade and higher…..prek is the best way to close the achievement gap for all children. However, at least 10-15% of children need another year of PreK before entering kindergarten. This would really make the difference in closing the achievement gap for all children. M@4 and Title I Prek puts NC much closer to realizing this dream. Public schools have worked hard to align the PreK standards to Kindergarten standards and this should not be thrown out with any merger that may come from the legialators.

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