Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — In a special address Monday, Gov. Roy Cooper declared that public education in North Carolina is facing a state of emergency.

Cooper outlined extreme legislation in the N.C. 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,” the governor said. “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.” 

In recent weeks, Republicans have pushed a series of sweeping legislation that would cause public schools to lose hundreds of millions of dollars, exacerbate the state’s teacher shortage and bring political culture wars into the classrooms, Cooper argued.

School Vouchers

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, 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, the governor said.

Teacher Shortage

North Carolina schools currently have more than 5,000 teacher vacancies. Recruiting and retaining quality teachers to the classroom is harder than ever and low pay is a big reason why.

Cooper’s budget proposed an 18 percent pay raise over two years. Last week Senate Republicans proposed increasing veteran teachers’ salaries by just $250 spread over two years. This will cause North Carolina to continue to push teachers out of our classrooms and leaving public school students without instruction, the governor said. 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.

Culture Wars

According to Cooper, 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.

Prominent Republicans have proposed eliminating core science classes and are pushing to rewrite history curriculums, the governor said. 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, Cooper said.

The governor will travel across the state this week to meet with business leaders, educators and parents to raise awareness about the dangers of the bills in the N.C. General Assembly and ask them to demand better and join the fight to protect public education in North Carolina.


Watch the Governor’s address.

Read the Governor’s full remarks.

Learn more about North Carolina’s public education emergency.

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