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Bright Beginnings Research Inconclusive

Supporters and opponents of the Bright Beginnings pre-K program can cite statistics all they want, but "there is not sufficient or valid evidence to support a funding decision on research from CMS," Superintendent Peter Gorman writes in memo to school board members. That's not to say that Bright Beginnings fails to deliver results, but past research isn't solid enough to label the program a success or failure, Ann Doss Helms reports in Sunday's Charlotte Observer. Helms also reports on the memo in her Your Schools blog. She writes: That's a bit of a bombshell to drop as the board faces a decision on whether to cut more than half the current Bright Beginnings program. Gorman has said he believes pre-K is the right thing to do, regardless of whether there's proof it changes long-term outcomes for kids. But he's also said he can't justify protecting pre-K while cutting K-12 classrooms. The new report could nudge the board toward pulling the trigger on cuts Tuesday, or it could push members toward another delay. Either way, the debate just got a lot more interesting. A $10.4 million cut to the Bright Beginnings program is up for debate at Tuesday's school board meeting. In another story, Helms speaks to some West Charlotte seniors who say they benefited from Bright Beginnings. She writes they "illustrate the difficulty of pinning down the benefit of pre-K." For example, one of the students was already reading before he was screened for the program. The student's mother says he probably would have done well without Bright Beginnings, but says it's a good program, "especially for children not as advanced" as her son.