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Raleigh, N.C. – North Carolina voters have not reached consensus on Judge Howard Manning’s ruling that all children deemed “at-risk” must be provided with free pre-kindergarten services.
Judge Manning ruled this past July that the state of North Carolina had a constitutional obligation to provide free Pre-Kindergarten services to all children deemed “at-risk” of academic failure. Children considered “at-risk” include those from families earning less than 75 percent of the state’s median income, as well as health factors like asthma and childhood obesity, among other criteria.
Forty-one percent of voters said the General Assembly should appeal to overturn Manning’s ruling, while 37 percent said they should spend the money to fund the program. Twelve percent said they do not know.
Republicans think the General Assembly should appeal the ruling by a 57 percent to 19 percent margin, along with 51 percent of unaffiliated voters. Over half, 54 percent, of Democratic voters said the money should be spent and the program funded to provide universal pre-K to at-risk children.
“This is a real public relations challenge for the General Assembly. North Carolinians are somewhat split, showing a divided concern over supporting our education system and preventing another entitlement program,” said Civitas Institute legislative analyst Andrew Henson.
Though split in opinion as to what should be done concerning Manning’s ruling, voters appear open to restructuring the pre-K eligibility standards for “at-risk” children. Fifty-six percent of voters said obesity and asthma, two current standards for eligibility, should not be factors for receiving free pre-kindergarten service. Conversely, 30 percent said these should be eligibility factors.
The Civitas Poll is the only regular live-caller poll of critical issues facing North Carolina. For more information on Civitas polling see http://www.nccivitas.org/category/poll/.
Full Text of Questions:
“The current North Carolina pre-K eligibility standards for children “at risk” of academic failure includes children, regardless of family income, with asthma and childhood obesity. Do you feel that asthma and childhood obesity should be factors that allow children to receive free pre-kindergarten?”
Yes, obesity and asthma should be eligibility factors for free pre-kindergarten service – 30%
No, obesity and asthma should not be eligibility factors for free pre-kindergarten service – 56%
Don’t Know/Refused – 14%
“Superior Court Judge Howard Manning ruled this past July that the state of North Carolina had a Constitutional obligation to provide free Pre-Kindergarten services to all children deemed “at-risk” of academic failure. Children considered “at-risk” include those from families earning under 75 percent of the state’s median income, which for a family of three is around $36,000, as well as health factors like asthma and childhood obesity, among other criteria. Fiscal staff in the General Assembly estimates that this could cost the state as much as $360 million. North Carolina currently spends around $130 million on the program. Do you feel…”
The General Assembly should appeal to overturn Manning’s ruling – 41%
The General Assembly should spend the money to fund the program and provide universal pre-K to at risk children – 37%
Don’t Know/Refused – 16%
For the full results and crosstabs, click here.
This poll of 600 likely 2012 general election voters in North Carolina was conducted October 17-18 2011 by National Research, Inc. of Holmdel, NJ. All respondents were part of a fully representative sample of probable 2012 general election voters in North Carolina. For purposes of this study, voters interviewed had to have voted in 2006 or 2008 or be newly registered to vote since November 5, 2008. (November 5 is the day after the election)
The confidence interval associated with a sample of this size is such that: 95 percent of the time, results from 600 interviews (registered voters) will be within +-4% of the “True Values.” True Values refer to the results obtained if it were possible to interview every person in North Carolina who had voted in the 2006 or 2008 general elections or is newly registered since November 5, 2008.