Alex Granados with EdNC interviews Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest about education issues. Below is a transcript of the Lt. Governor’s early childhood comments.
Alex: How do we educate children in poverty?
Lt. Gov. Forest: I think we certainly have missed the boat on early childhood education, in dealing with early childhood education in a proper fashion. When we’ve dealt with it in the past, it’s been all-in, a one-size-fits-all approach for the whole state, for every region, for every demographic, and that’s not really the way it works. You know where the schools are that are struggling. Generally those schools that are struggling, where those students are struggling, are demographically impoverished places, so you need to target those places with early childhood education and make sure that – as you well know there are plenty of students that grow up and go to kindergarten that have never read a book or have never had a book read to them before, obviously starting off at a significant disadvantage by the time they get to kindergarten or first grade. So, doing a good early childhood education program that really does allow students to come with some parity to kindergarten or first grade, I think is critical, and I don’t think we’ve done that very well in the past.
Alex: You mentioned early childhood education. Do you think we that we are putting enough money into it?
Lt. Gov. Forest: I think it just needs to be reinvented. No, I don’t think we do because, we really don’t have an emphasis on it right now. It’s been an afterthought; it’s one of those things that people have dabbled with in the past, and there’s statistics on both sides of the equation. You read about Smart Start and half the people say this worked great and the other half say this was a horrible failure. Then you look at all of the programs, More at Four and you can hear stories on both sides, right. This would be a great one to really build some consensus across the board on, to get a group of people around a table try to do your best job to put political agendas aside with these kinds of things and says what’s going to be best for our kids. We know we have this issue, right. We know this issue exists. We don’t like that we have this issue in North Carolina, but demographically we have some struggling students out there and so I think it’s really time to hunker and figure out how to solve it. It won’t happen overnight.
You can listen to the complete interview here.
There is consensus among North Carolina voters. A strong majority of Republicans, Independents and Democrats want more investments in early learning—including providing greater access to affordable child care, Smart Start, NC Pre-K, and programs that build parenting skills. Read more here.
Duke University researchers found that Smart Start and NC Pre-K reduce special education placements and increase third grade reading and math scores. Read more here.