photo by alan yount

North Carolina lawmakers apparently want to deprive at-risk children of pre-K programming while they provide more affluent kids with state funds to attend private schools.

They’ve proposed a voucher bill (HB944) that would give school children as much $4,200 each to go to a private school if they come from a family that makes up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, or nearly $59,000 a year for a family of three.

The two-year tab comes to $90 million.

At the same time, lawmakers have proposed a bill (HB935) that would cut pre-K eligibility — now at about $39,000 for a family of three — to the federal poverty level ($19,500) or below.

Their two-step move defies all logic.

The Tar Heel State has a great need for pre-K initiatives, which have a proven track record of improving academic performance for at-risk youth. There is very little, if any, need for voucher programs that despite more than two decades of experimentation have failed to put a dent in the nation’s myriad achievement gaps.