NC Governor Issues Executive Order to Maintain Quality Pre-K

Aug 15, 2011

By Christine Johnson-Staub

North Carolina Gov. Bev  Perdue and state Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Jr. have stepped up to the plate for children by preventing North Carolina's budget woes from resulting in fewer children in lower quality pre-kindergarten programs.

Gov. Perdue on Aug. 10 issued an executive order to maintain the quality of pre-kindergarten classrooms as the program transitions from the state's Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to its Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). She took the baton from state Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Jr., who last month ordered that the state's pre-kindergarten program could not limit access for eligible at-risk children.

NC Pre-K, previously known as More At Four, survived a difficult legislative budget season that resulted in a 20 percent reduction in funding for the highly regarded program, limits on availability for at-risk children, and increased parent fees. The subsequent court order countered the legislature's moves by  establishing that the state could not limit access to NC Pre-K for at-risk 4-year-olds. Now, the governor has drawn her own line in the sand, declaring that DHHS must not only develop a plan to ensure that all eligible at risk 4-year-olds have access to NC Pre-K, but also that specific elements of quality must be in place for the program. Specifically, the governor's order calls on DHHS to:

  • Maintain per-child funding that is sufficient to maintain NC Pre-K quality;
  • Maintain the academic standards for the pre-K program, including curriculum that addresses the full range of developmental domains; and
  • Require that all pre-K teachers obtain a Birth to Five certification within a given timeframe.

The order also includes several provisions encouraging alignment of NC Pre-K with grade K-3 education in the state.

Addressing a priority of early childhood professional development stakeholders in the state, the order also includes language encouraging all four-year and community college early childhood education certification programs to develop "strong and effective articulation agreements," to ensure child care and early education professionals pursuing higher education degrees are able to earn full credit for their time in the classroom. Further, the governor encourages all community colleges that are part of these articulation agreements to become nationally accredited through the National Association for the Education of Young Children's (NAEYC's) Early Childhood Associates Degree Accreditation Program. According to NAEYC, 127 programs in 25 states have achieved this accreditation.

By simultaneously focusing on access for those who need it most and program quality, the state can maintain the core of its highly regarded pre-kindergarten program at a time when the needs of at-risk children and their families are increasingly urgent.

site by Trilogy Interactive