Letter writer: Candidates need strategy for early learning

Write to Mountain Xpress
Graphic by Lori Deaton

A recent bipartisan poll shows that in the midst of a divisive election year, there is an issue that unites all North Carolinians — early learning. Significant majorities of Republicans, independents and Democrats want more investments in early learning — including providing greater access to affordable, high-quality child care, Smart Start, NC Pre-K and programs that build parenting skills.

Building a stronger North Carolina and Buncombe County is rooted in ensuring our children have a strong start and our families are supported. We know that early learning investments have both short- and long-term benefits. That’s why more than three out of four voters say that high-quality early learning programs help set children up for success in middle and high school; help children achieve their third-grade reading goals; and help create a larger pool of highly skilled workers in the long term.

Laurie Stradley
Laurie Stradley, Vice Chair, Board of Buncombe Partnership For Children

Buncombe Partnership for Children is our local partner in the Smart Start network, and their investments in young children, their families and the early childhood system in Buncombe County are essential to the long-term success of our children.

Eighty-four percent of North Carolina voters support expanding Smart Start and NC Pre-K. That includes 70 percent of Republicans (up from 50 percent), 92 percent of Democrats (same as 2014) and 87 percent of independents (up from 73 percent) who all support increasing funding for these programs.

Jacque Penick
Jacque Pennick, Executive Director, Verner Center for Early Learning and a partner in the NC Pre-K Program

This recent poll shows that North Carolina voters care deeply about elected officials investing in early education, with 74 percent of N.C. voters saying we should be doing more to ensure children begin kindergarten with the knowledge and skills they need. This level of support reflects a 9 percent increase from 2014.

We have heard little during this campaign season on early learning —an issue that everyone from top military, business and law enforcement leaders say is essential for our future security and prosperity. Every candidate for public office should have an early learning strategy. As the poll shows, it’s the people’s will.

For more information about local investments in early childhood education, visit www.buncombepfc.org.

— Laurie Stradley
Vice Chair
Board of Buncombe Partnership For Children

— Jacque Pennick
Executive Director
Verner Center for Early Learning and a partner in the NC Pre-K Program
Asheville

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