In a special address, North Carolina governor Roy Cooper declared that public education in the state is facing a “state of emergency” as a result of “extreme legislation” in the NC General Assembly that would cripple the state’s public education system and urged North Carolinians to contact their legislators.
“It’s clear that the Republican legislature is aiming to choke the life out of public education. I’m declaring this a state of emergency because you need to know what’s happening. If you care about public schools in North Carolina, it’s time to take immediate action and tell them to stop the damage that will set back our schools for a generation,” said Governor Cooper.
Recently, Republicans have pushed a series of sweeping measures that Cooper claims would cause public schools to lose hundreds of millions of dollars, exacerbate the state’s teacher shortage, and aggravate political culture wars in classrooms.
NC Republican lawmakers are proposing legislation that could divert billions of dollars in taxpayer money into private schools that are not subject to state standards and can be selective over student admissions. Their plan would extend private school vouchers to anyone regardless of income.
Critics fear that by expanding voucher eligibility to any K–12 student, public schools, especially those in rural and poorer counties, will face steep funding cuts, leaving schools without the resources to maintain fixed costs and support students.
North Carolina schools currently have more than 5,000 teacher vacancies. Governor Cooper’s budget proposed an 18% pay raise over two years, but Senate Republicans have responded by proposing to increase veteran teachers’ salaries by just $250 spread over two years. In addition, legislators are proposing an acceleration of tax cuts that are projected to cut North Carolina’s state budget by almost 20%, which could restrict the funding of public education.
Prominent lawmakers have also proposed eliminating core science classes and are pushing to rewrite history curricula, which has angered the governor, who is campaigning across the state against the legislation.