North Carolina's Supreme Court is considering a case that could decide whether a pre-kindergarten academic program designed to boost the educational prospects of poor children must be expanded to enroll every needy 4-year-old. One estimate puts the move at up to $300 million a year.
The state's high court will hear from attorneys Tuesday in the latest chapter in a 19-year-old dispute brought by five poor school districts.
The North Carolina Supreme Court has ruled that every child has a constitutional right to a sound, basic education. The high court ruled in 2004 that that includes helping children who are at risk of falling behind their peers with pre-kindergarten services.
At issue are cutbacks by the Republican-led General Assembly that lower courts decided would deprive most disadvantaged 4-year-olds from benefiting.