by Dr. Terry Stoops
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
As Mitch pointed out, the N.C. Appeals Court upheld Superior Court Judge Howard Manning’s order to provide pre-kindergarten education to all “at risk” four-year-old children. No suprise there. But one of the concluding paragraphs is worth noting.
Additionally, we would like to emphasize that while MAF was the remedy chosen by the legislative and executive branches in 2001 to deal with the problems presented by “at risk” four year olds, it is not necessarily a permanent or everlasting solution to the problem. What is required of the State to provide as “a sound basic education” in the 21st century was not the same as it was in the 19th century, nor will it be the same as it will be in the 22nd century. It would be unwise for the courts to attempt to lock the legislative and executive branches into a solution to a problem that no longer works, or addresses a problem that no longer exists. Therefore, should the problem at hand cease to exist or should its solution be superseded by another approach, the State should be allowed to modify or eliminate MAF. This should be done by means of a motion filed with the trial court setting forth the basis for and manner of any proposed modification.
This paragraph suggests that the adoption of another approach – e.g., a means-tested scholarship or tax credit – may allow the state to “modify or eliminate MAF [N.C. Pre-K].”