The state's new director of child development and early education apparently doesn't think too highly of early childhood education programs.
Dianna Lightfoot, whose appointment was announced Tuesday by Aldona Wos, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, has been the president of the National Physicians Center since 2001.
A policy paper — signed by Lightfoot and two board members — on the nonprofit's website states that early childhood education programs "may actually be inferior to early learning opportunities at home."
The paper also states: "Encouraging parents to entrust their children to an institution may result in some being less responsible and reliable. In the long run, there is great potential for early learning institutions to foster more dependency on the government (i.e. taxpayer) and more of an entitlement mentality."
It also says that demand for childcare is overstated, and cites as proof a 1997 Glamour magazine poll that found that 88 percent of women would want their child at home if they could afford it.
Read the full paper here: www.physicianscenter.org/v1/positions_education-wk.php
Lightfoot, who starts her new job Monday, will be in charge of the state's child-care program and NC Pre-K, earning an annual salary of $110,000.
In naming her to the post, Wos said: "Her leadership will ensure we meet the State’s longstanding commitment to protect and serve our young children.”
Reacting to her appointment on Wednesday, Clay Clay Pittman, spokesman for the North Carolina Democratic party released this statement:
“North Carolina was a pioneer in early childhood education. Our development of Smart Start and More at Four set a benchmark for the rest of the country. ... For Governor McCrory, who stated his support for Pre-K during the campaign, and Secretary Wos to appoint someone who actively advocates against Pre-K, who believes that educating our children will result in “an entitlement mentality,” demonstrates a total lack of respect for the educational process and a willingness to sacrifice North Carolina’s future a political goal.”
In response to questions, a DHHS spokeswoman released this statement: "Ms. Lightfoot was selected for this position because she has extensive expertise in healthcare, child welfare and education. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is committed to outcomes-based, effective and quality early childhood programs and Ms. Lightfoot will work closely with the Secretary to carry out the department’s mission to protect the health and well being of all people, especially young children."