RALEIGH, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Gov. Roy Cooper declared that public education in North Carolina is facing a state of emergency in a special address Monday.

Cooper outlined what he calls ‘extreme legislation’ in the N.C. General Assembly, urging North Carolinians to contact their legislators to avoid crippling the state’s public education system.

“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,” said Cooper. “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.”

Outlining the matter into three main categories, Cooper elaborated on the specifics of the announcement.

Those categories are as follows, and Cooper provided the following statements for each:

A Devastating School Voucher Scheme

Legislative Republicans propose pouring billions of dollars in taxpayer money into private schools that are unaccountable to the public and can decide which students they want to admit. Their plan would expand private school vouchers so anyone – even a millionaire – can get taxpayer money for their children’s private school tuition.

 By expanding voucher eligibility to any K-12 student, our public schools, especially schools in rural and poorer counties, will face steep funding cuts, leaving schools without the resources to maintain fixed costs and support students.

A Worsening Teacher Shortage

North Carolina schools currently have more than 5,000 teacher vacancies. Recruiting and retaining quality teachers in the classroom is harder than ever and low pay is a big reason why. Governor Cooper’s budget proposed an 18% pay raise over two years. But last week Senate Republicans proposed increasing veteran teachers’ salaries by just $250 spread over two years. This will cause North Carolina to continue to fall behind, pushing teachers out of our classrooms and leaving public school students without instruction. In addition, legislators are proposing an acceleration of tax cuts that are projected to cut North Carolina’s state budget by almost 20 percent —hamstringing the ability to fund public education now and in the future. 

Injecting Culture Wars into the Classroom

Republican leaders want to inject their political culture wars into classrooms across North Carolina with bills that would put politicians in charge of curriculum setting, micromanage what teachers can teach, and target LGBTQ+ students. Already, prominent Republicans have proposed eliminating core science classes and are pushing to rewrite history curriculums to fit a political agenda. Students need an education that prepares them for the workforce and success. North Carolina’s families, businesses and economy depend on it. Putting politicians in charge of the classroom is dangerous.

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To view the Governor’s full address, watch below:

To read the governor’s full remarks, click here.