John Hood has an excellent column out today on a new N.C. Court of Appeals’ new ruling on attempts to restrict eligibility for at-risk children in the state’s More at Four pre-K program. Definitely read what John had to write if you want a quick understanding of the issue and the path forward. A highlight:

Upon re-reading and reflection, I believe that the judges’ decision is reasonable given the facts and circumstances presented to them. We are in a transition period in North Carolina politics, a period in which the executive branch and legislative branch don’t see eye-to-eye. Leandro was never meant to be a permanent, sweeping transfer of political authority over education to the judicial branch. No one has elected Howdy Manning or any other judge to decide how best to educate North Carolina children.

But under Leandro, the judiciary does have the responsibility to demand that the executive and legislative branches pay attention to the needs of at-risk students. I suggest that in 2013 the newly elected governor and legislature file a motion in Manning’s court clarifying that North Carolina will satisfy its constitutional obligations by 1) funding preschool programs delivered by public and private providers to poor children with risk factors such as incarcerated, addicted, or absent parents; 2) paying teachers according to demonstrable success with at-risk students, and 3) giving the parents of at-risk students the ability to choose the school that best meets their needs.