Most of us associate preschool with Play-Doh, letter blocks, nap-time, and, if we’re lucky, a few good snacks. Looking back at your preschool times, do you think that prekindergarten actually made a difference in your education? Studies show that pre-k does, in fact, have a substantial impact on the overall success of at-risk, low-income individuals.
Ever since the economic recession hit in 2008, NC legislators have cut funding to public education. The nationally acclaimed NC child development program “More at Four” was cut last year when the Division for Child Development lost 23.2 percent of its funding from the previous year. “More at Four” has subsequently been replaced by the NC Pre-Kindergarten Program.
In May 2010, the NC Superior Court summoned the state to account for how it would ensure NC children had access to quality education after the major cuts to the education system. In July 2011, Superior Court Judge Howard E. Manning Jr. ruled that the state’s current budget was unconstitutional because it limited at-risk or low-income children’s availability to NC pre-k programs.
Manning cited Article 1 Section 15 of the NC State Constitution: “The people have a right to the privilege of education, and it is the duty of the State to guard and maintain that right.” Manning determined that the budget cuts would go against the state’s constitutional duty to provide a sound and basic education to children.
With so many other industries struggling to get on their feet during this economic downturn, why should the state’s money go to pre-k programs? Three studies, the Chicago Child-Parent Centers, the Perry Preschool study and the Carolina Abecedarian Project, tracked the progress and success of at-risk, low-income children from early childhood to adulthood. Though the percentages vary, the general consensus is that at at-risk, low-income children that go to a high quality preschool do better in life than comparable children that do not go to preschool.
These children have lower rates of teen pregnancy, high school drop out, incarceration and need of government aid programs. They have higher rates of reading and writing skills as well as social skills. At-risk, low-income children that go to preschool are more likely to graduate high school, go to college, and have full-time employment later in life than those that do not.
Watch WhichWayNC’s interpretation of the importance of pre-k in the stop-action Play-Doh short film above.