Leandro Moves Forward with Release of Comprehensive Plan for Next Eight Years, Including Significant Investments in Early Childhood

On March 15th, the state parties involved with the Leandro case submitted their Comprehensive Remedial Plan to the NC Superior Court. View the Plan here.

The Plan is in response to Consent Orders made by Judge Lee in January and September 2020 to develop short, medium, and long-term Action Plans that implement the recommendations made by WestEd and the Governor’s Commission on Access to Sound Basic Education. 

A short-term Action Plan was submitted in June 2020 for implementation in 2020-21. Learn more about the early childhood actions steps in this plan and their connection to the Pathways Action Framework here. Due to the pandemic, some of these actions could not be accomplished in the 2021 fiscal year and have been incorporated into the Comprehensive Plan.

The Comprehensive Plan outlines specific action steps to be implemented by the state and the State Board of Education over the next eight years to ensure every child in North Carolina has the opportunity to receive a sound, basic education by 2030. It includes a timeframe for implementation, an estimate of needed resources in addition to current funding, and a proposal for monitoring implementation and assessing outcomes. The state and the State Board of Education commit to these goals, actions, and timeframes.

One of the seven areas outlined in the Consent Order and Plan is specific to early childhood:

A system of early education that provides access to high-quality prekindergarten and other early childhood learning opportunities to ensure that all students at-risk of educational failure, regardless of where they live in the State, enter kindergarten on track for school success.

The Plan’s actions and goals for this area are copied below. Refer to pages 40-51 of the Plan for specific actions steps and responsible parties. The Plan draws on the goals, measures, and strategies outlined in the NC Early Childhood Action Plan, which was developed using the Pathways Frameworks.

 

 

The Plan takes into account the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was happening as the Plan was being developed. The NC General Assembly and Governor put into motion several bills to help mitigate the pandemic’s effect on schools and students through federal relief dollars. However, this funding was not intended to address the longstanding historical inequities in education addressed by Leandro, which are the focus of this Plan.

View an eight-year timeline for implementation and funding in the Plan’s Appendix, shared here by Education NC. See pages 20-26 for the early childhood section.

Some actions can move forward with current funding and others will require additional investment like NC Pre-K expansion and scaling Smart Start and early intervention services. The Plan’s budget takes into account the increase in federal relief funding due to COVID-19 and school district capacity to manage funds in the short-term and allocates greater resources to later years in the Plan.

When and if the Comprehensive Plan is signed off on by Judge Lee, the Governor and NC General Assembly will be responsible for incorporating it into their upcoming 2021-23 biennium budgets.

Education advocacy coalition Every Child NC is encouraging lawmakers to approve the budget, saying that it is affordable, equitable, and necessary to ensure the constitutional rights of NC’s children. Research has shown that investments in early childhood offer the highest return on investment of any age group.1

 

1. Heckman Equation: https://heckmanequation.org/