Bill would expand pre-K services

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Apr. 2—HIGH POINT — A local legislator is leading the effort in the N.C. General Assembly to expand prekindergarten programs to any child in the state whose parents want to enroll.

Rep. Cecil Brockman, D-Guilford, recently filed House Bill 364 to provide universal access to pre-K education. The legislation would allocate $12.5 million to pay for approximately 2,150 new pre-K slots statewide.

"Our state's children deserve the best possible start to their educational journey," Brockman said. "This bill will provide an opportunity for all families to secure a bright future for their child through NC Pre-K."

One of the cosponsors of House Bill 364 is Rep. John Faircloth, R-Guilford, a co-chairman of the influential House Appropriations Committee, and Brockman told The High Point Enterprise that he hopes to secure more support from across the aisle for the universal pre-K expansion, given GOP control of both legislative chambers.

Faircloth told The Enterprise that he has a strong belief in preparing children for school, and the legislation "addresses that concern."

Other area cosponsors of the bill include Guilford County Democratic Reps. Amos Quick, Pricey Harrison and Ashton Clemmons.

Brockman, vice chairman of the House K-12 Education committee, cited research illustrating the benefits of pre-K for a child's educational development.

A study of the NC Pre-K program by the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina found that children enrolled in the program had significantly better performance on a set of language and literacy skills than those who didn't take part.

A 2019 report from the General Assembly's Program Evaluation Division recommended a focus on early education, such as pre-K, to close the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged students and students from more affluent families.

pjohnson@hpenews.com — 336-888-3528 — @HPEpaul

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