The more I learn about Pre-K, the more I’m in favor of it being available to all children, regardless of developmental delays, lower SES, and the other current requirements. At the moment, I am working on a project in which I’m reading articles upon articles and statistics upon statistics, most of which are about pre-k and how it effects a child’s readiness for kindergarten. In my research, I’m finding it interesting that some states provide pre-k for three and four-year-olds, but North Carolina only offers pre-k for four-year-olds. In this post, I will focus on NC Pre-K and my thoughts about what I’ve learned through my research thus far.
I found the website http://nieer.org/sites/nieer/files/yearbook2013.pdf to be of great help in my quest to find all that is Pre-K related. This particular link will take you to a “Yearbook” that includes pre-k statistics on the national and state levels. Beginning on page 103, I found the North Carolina summary and statistics for the year 2013 (the most recent year they have at the moment). I was not surprised to find that the state spent $7,644 per child enrolled in NC Pre-K in 2002, and only $4,960 in the year 2013. This is roughly a 60% decrease in funding per child (these state funds come from, “general state funds and the state lottery,”). At the same time, only 1% of four year olds in the state were enrolled in Pre-K in 2002, but now 23% of four year olds are enrolled. With the enrollment number increasing, I would hope that the funding would increase to accommodate the children’s needs. Alas, that is not the case. I see where the state is coming from in that the more kids you have, the less money each child will get. However I believe that the quality should not be compromised due to a lack of money. The state either needs to provide more funding and resources, or figure out another way to ensure that each child is getting exactly what he or she needs before entering kindergarten.
All of this said, North Carolina meets all ten benchmark requirements, so the quality of care can’t be too bad. All lead teachers have their Bachelor’s Degree, and assistant teachers must be in the process of working towards a Bachelor’s Degree.
Another fact I found interesting from the website mentioned above is that 100% of counties in North Carolina offer NC Pre-K. That’s awesome. Pre-K is a program in which children learn skills needed for their school career as well as their life in general. With all of our counties offering Pre-K, I wish that all children could be enrolled. The current requirements for children enrolled in Pre-K are that they must be “at-risk” or have a parent in the military. Risk factors include, “having a developmental delay or identified disability, family income at or below 75 percent of the state median income, having a chronic health condition, or having limited English proficiency,” (http://nieer.org/sites/nieer/files/yearbook2013.pdf, 103). I love the fact that many at-risk children are getting the help they need to succeed later on in life, especially because age four is such a crucial time for learning and development. However, my dream is that all children could benefit from the NC Pre-K system. I know that many children go to other childcare centers and are getting similar help to what is offered through NC Pre-K, and that’s wonderful. I’ve actually worked at one of those childcare centers in our state and been able to help children learn and progress. There are many childcare options out there, but they are often costly and not as good as NC Pre-K. In my perfect world, NC Pre-K would be available to all children.