June Atkinson: Pre-K program essential

May 20, 2013 

Pre-K program essential

If we do not give our 4-year-olds the opportunity to attend pre-kindergarten, we will be ignoring research and years of studies that show the positive effect such an academic program can have on learning. If you do not want to read the research, just ask a kindergarten teacher!

It is wrong, shortsighted and too costly to erect “artificial barriers” that discourage school districts from offering pre-kindergarten in public schools. Schools are well-equipped, especially in rural areas, to address the many different learning needs of young children. In some counties, local school districts are the only quality option for pre-kindergarten education.

A proposal to prohibit local school districts from administering N.C. Pre-K and to restrict program eligibility are putting the futures of our children and our state at risk. Instead, the General Assembly should follow Gov. James Holshouser’s bold lead when he expanded public kindergarten statewide in the 1970s. In this same spirit, lawmakers today should establish an allotment for pre-kindergarten teachers and embrace the role public schools play in pre-K education. That way, we can provide this vital program to more children statewide. It’s the right thing to do for children and, ultimately, the right thing to do for North Carolina.

June Atkinson

State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Raleigh

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