‘Pre-K is critical.’ NC Gov. Cooper, US Ed Secretary Cardona back universal preschool.

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper toured a childcare center in Cary on Thursday to promote a national plan to give two years of free preschool to all children.

President Joe Biden is proposing spending $200 billion on universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds as part of his American Families Plan that he’s pitched to Congress. Cardona and state leaders said Thursday that two years of preschool will help give children the skills they need to prepare them for school and life.

“When I think of the American Families Plan and the potential it has, I think of places like this,” Cardona said after touring Bright Beginnings Child Development Center. “Imagine if kids across the country had the opportunities that children have here.”

The American Families Plan in all would spend $1.8 trillion, which would be covered by higher tax rates on the weathiest and other IRS enforcement changes, the Associated Press reported.

NC not meeting Pre-K goal

The national plan comes as North Carolina still hasn’t reached its goal of providing free pre-K to 75% of the state’s at-risk 4-year-old children.

The state has seen increases in pre-kindergarten enrollment, reaching 31,000 children, roughly 50% of those eligible. But enrollment dropped by more than 9,100 children this school year during the coronavirus pandemic.

Some of the state’s most prominent business leaders have urged the Republican-led General Assembly to maintain funding for the NC Pre-K program and, if possible, increase funding so that expansion can continue.

The business leaders also want to encourage high-quality childcare centers to participate in NC Pre-K, to increase how much money the state provides per child and to help lower-wealth communities increase participation.

Cooper’s budget proposal calls for more money to expand Pre-K enrollment, higher pay for childcare workers and increased reimbursement rates for providers.

“Pre-K is critical,” Cooper, a Democrat, said Thursday at a news conference with Cardona. “We want universal Pre-K in North Carolina. We know that education is cradle to career.”

The State Board of Education has proposed increased spending for the Smart Start program and the Pre-K program as part of its action plan in the Leandro school funding court case.

But state lawmakers have complained that they weren’t consulted in the plan. The judge presiding over the Leandro case has said he won’t order lawmakers to provide the funding.

Wake County has had more success than other North Carolina counties in getting low-to-middle-income 4-year-olds into Pre-K programs. As a result, the county is launching a new program to provide free preschool to low-income 3-year-olds.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting