August 17, 2011
The North Carolina legislature cut pre-K funding in its recently passed budget.
At the request of plaintiffs in Hoke County v. State, the Wake County
Superior Court ordered that
the state (1) "shall not implement or enforce that portion of the 2011 Budget
Bill" and (2) "shall not deny any eligible at-risk four year old admission ...
and shall provide ... quality [pre-K] services ... ."
In response, the Governor issued an Executive
Order (EO No. 100), requiring NC Pre-K to maintain and strengthen "current
academic standards and operation" and continue "the critical infrastructure and
sufficient per child funding to ensure that current standards" are maintained.
North Carolina's "More at Four" pre-K program was a long-standing and high quality
program for four year olds until the legislature cut funding and renamed it.
The Superior Court issued its order after a three-day hearing and was well-positioned
to hear plaintiffs' motion because it is the remand court from a 2004
North Carolina Supreme Court Hoke County ruling that declared the
then-current state school funding system violated the NC Constitution. The supreme
court remanded the case to the superior court to monitor the state's compliance.
To date, North Carolina is one of only three states in which plaintiffs have
challenged state school funding budget cuts. Plaintiffs in New Jersey successfully
challenged school funding cuts, and plaintiffs in Kansas are preparing for
trial on their claims that recent funding cuts violate the Kansas Constitution
and that Kansas children are being deprived of their fundamental right to an
education. The Kansas
petition asks the court to require the state to provide sufficient moneys
to allow the current school finance system to work.