The Preschool Wars

Why North Carolina is leading a knockdown, drag-out fight to get 4-year-olds off waitlists and into pre-K

Jeremy M. Lange for TIME

The Preschool Wars

Zaire Hines is standing in front of a pint-size table, building a castle out of red and blue plastic cups. He stacks them into a tower and then, in his excitement ("Look what I did!"), accidentally knocks them to the floor. If he were at day care or in his bedroom, Zaire, 4, might have shrugged and moved on to another set of toys. But he's at Project Enlightenment, a publicly funded preschool in Raleigh, N.C., where his teacher, Kim Jackson, is using the cups to help Zaire work on counting and other premath skills as well as underlying ones like...