Statement on the Senate HHS Budget Proposal by Dr. Olson Huff, Board Chair of The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc.
“I fear for the well-being of the children of our state. In one fell swoop, the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee announced a plan to destroy years of early childhood progress that has raised third grade outcomes and given thousands of children an opportunity to succeed.
In an elaborate shell game that claims savings without really doing so, the committee effectively killed the state’s nationally recognized early childhood system, Smart Start.
Abolishing Smart Start is the wrong direction to go on education. You can’t get older children to perform in school by taking resources from younger children — at the very time that their brains are being hard-wired to learn.
Earlier this year a Duke University study showed that all North Carolina third-graders have higher standardized reading and math scores and lower special education placement rates in counties that received more funding for Smart Start when those children were younger. What’s more, they found that Smart Start raises the academic achievement of all children in a community, whether they were in child care or not.
The Senate’s proposal to rob the state of this vital program is poor education policy and poor economic policy. This is hardly a growth strategy for our state. The state’s youngest children are taking the hardest hit.”