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Early Childhood Education And
Continued Support For Smart Start

Position:  NCCBI recommends that North Carolina assist local school districts in assuring that children enter school ready to learn. Specifically, NCCBI:

  1. encourages the state to use the new knowledge we have about brain development in children from birth to 3 years to develop appropriate programs and opportunities for learning;
  2. continues to support preschool programs with specific support for Smart Start;  and
  3. encourages schools to develop greater continuity between preschool programs and the primary grades.

Explanation: Research has uncovered evidence about the importance of brain development in children from birth to 3 years and has documented the effectiveness of preschool programs in preparing children for the learning experiences they will encounter when they enter school. It is important that all of this information be taken into account and used appropriately as we look at opportunities for young children to learn and design programs for children to prepare them for school.

1.      Early Brain Development

New evidence about the importance of early brain development indicates that neurological development closely parallels the development of the ability to learn and the capacity we call intelligence.  Given this new knowledge, we must determine what new public policy, if any, will be effective in maximizing the potentials of children through creating environments that best nurture brain development.

While some children are living in environments that are nurturing and supportive, others are suffering from neglect and stress. Appropriate attention needs to be given to children in this age group to give them the best foundation possible for learning. Parents need informational tools on how best to effectively interact with young children to give them the best possible opportunity to learn.

As a first step in addressing the needs of children from birth to 3 years, and the issues of parental responsibility and privacy, an assessment needs to be made of state government agencies to determine what activities are being planned to use and implement the new knowledge we have about early brain development. Additionally, the Department of Public Instruction should maintain enrollment, membership and attendance data for full-day pre-kindergarten instructional programs operated in public elementary schools.

2.      Preschool Programs and Smart Start

Research has documented the effectiveness of preschool programs and recent information in North Carolina has shown that programs such as Smart Start are making a real difference in preparing children for the learning experiences they will encounter when they enter school.

The cost of such programs is offset by savings in remedial services, absenteeism, special education services, and grade retention, all of which are reduced by preschool programs. Research also shows that when parents are involved in their children’s schools, the children achieve at higher levels.  The legislature needs to continue the progress it is making in fully expanding smart start to all 100 counties.

3.      Continuity between preschool programs and the primary grades

Educators, the business community and the public at large have been concerned over the years about the poor performance of many North Carolina students on serious measures of achievement. Progress is being made at all levels and although we are heading in the right direction with improvement at all levels of the education continuum, we must continue to do all that we can to give every child an opportunity to learn.

Because we know that early childhood education has a profound impact on how well a child does at higher grade levels, we must continue to give attention to educational opportunities at the preschool and primary grade levels and develop continuity between the two. This early attention and intervention can enable students to take greater advantage of the instruction offered in the middle grades and high school.

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Teacher Recruitment and Retention
Full Funding for Mandates
Information Technology
Opposition to Tax Credits
Parental and Community Involvement
Stay the Course
Support for Community Colleges
Teacher/Administrator Preparation Programs and Facilities

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