Breaking News: Governor Declares State of Emergency in Education System!
Raleigh, May 23, 2023: Governor Roy Cooper announced on Monday that public education in North Carolina is facing a critical state of emergency due to what he called "extreme legislation" being promoted by Republican lawmakers. In a video address, Cooper criticized GOP plans to cut taxes and increase funding for private school vouchers, accusing them of starving public education. He urged the public to take action against these changes before they are adopted in the state budget.
Cooper's speech comes amidst ongoing negotiations between Republican legislative leaders for the state budget. With a legislative supermajority, Republicans can pass spending plans and other legislation without needing Cooper's support.
In the coming days, the governor plans to hold public events across the state, calling on parents, educators, and business leaders to speak out against the proposed GOP measures. Cooper's visit to Washington Elementary School in Raleigh is scheduled for Tuesday, which recently received recognition as the top magnet elementary school in the nation.
As Cooper faces declining political power, seven Democrats joined Republicans last week in passing the Senate budget proposal, marking a setback for the governor. The Senate budget includes a 4.5% increase in average teacher pay over the next two years, while the House GOP budget proposed a 10.2% raise for teachers during the same period. Cooper has been advocating for an 18% raise for teachers.
Under the Senate budget, the Opportunity Scholarship program would be expanded to allow any family, regardless of income, to qualify for vouchers to attend private K-12 schools. This expansion has drawn criticism, with concerns that it could divert $200 million in state funding from traditional public schools, particularly affecting rural counties.
Cooper also highlighted other education-related legislation under consideration, such as the ban on curriculum pertaining to gender identity, sexual activity, or sexuality in kindergarten through fourth grades. He criticized bills that would prohibit transgender female athletes from participating in girls' sports teams and attempt to regulate the teaching of racism in schools. Furthermore, Cooper voiced opposition to proposals that could lead to the appointment of political figures influencing curriculum decisions and potentially replacing the State Board of Education.
The governor's passionate plea to prioritize public schools and reject what he deemed as "culture wars in classrooms" has sparked a heated debate, with Republican leaders dismissing his speech as a political stunt and emphasizing their commitment to addressing the needs of students and parents.
As the budget negotiations continue, the fate of North Carolina's public education system hangs in the balance, while the battle over ideological divisions in the classroom remains a focal point of contention between the Democratic governor and Republican lawmakers.