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State Republican Taking a Stand on Early Education

January 25, 2011

RALEIGH, N.C. - With North Carolina $3.7 billion in the red, early education is among the state budget items which are vulnerable to cuts. As Republicans take over the state assembly on Wednesday, many fear those cuts could be deep - but at least one member of the party is taking a stand.

Rep. David Lewis, R-Lillington, is the only legislator to sign an online petition pledging to protect children's programs in the state.

"I pledged that I would do everything that I could to make sure that the direct services that are provided to the kids are kept as intact as possible."

Early-learning programs such as Smart Start already are feeling the pinch. Some are being asked to return funds to state government. Lewis says his fellow party members share his sentiments even though some believe a Republican-controlled state assembly will bring tougher cuts to education.

"I would think that, pledge or not, most of my colleagues certainly support doing everything we can to keep younger childhood education strong."

Early-childhood education is seen as imperative by many educators. According to census data, two-thirds of North Carolina children ages birth to 5 years live in households where both parents work.

So far nearly 800 people have signed the online petition, the Pledge to Protect N-C Children, available at thepetitionsite.com/10/North-Carolina-Children-Pledge/.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC