Manning was right

Published 1:49 am Friday, August 5, 2011

Judge Howard Manning was right to rule that changes in the state-funded More at Four prekindergarten program would deny many of the state’s poor children a sound, basic education.
More at Four, now called the NC Pre-K Program, serves thousands of at-risk prekindergarteners.
The N.C. Division of Child Development and Early Education defines its “at-risk” population as families that are at or under 75 percent of the state median income.
The prekindergarten program also helps children with limited English proficiency, developmentally disabled children, children with chronic health conditions and children who have one or more parents on active-duty military service.
Manning ruled that program changes approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature would run afoul of the N.C. Supreme Court’s Leandro decision — the outcome of the Leandro lawsuit filed by people in low-wealth communities with a vested interest in education.
Members of the Legislature apparently thought it was OK to throw thousands of young, disadvantaged students under the proverbial bus by making poor parents pay more than income taxes for their offsprings’ right to be educated.
What’s next? An entry fee at the door of every public school?
Education dollars well-managed and well-spent reap profound dividends for our society, and that’s a documented fact. It’s not good enough to shout, “It’s MY tax money,” then walk away from the problem.
If that argument were good enough, one could legitimately contend that anyone who has the means to support himself beyond age 65 isn’t entitled to Social Security.
All taxpayers — indeed, all members of society — bear some responsibility for educating our state’s children.
And, believe it or not, poor people pay taxes, too.