Friday, June 30, 2023

Governor Cooper Hosts Education Roundtable in Western North Carolina, Speaks with Education Leaders About Republican Legislation Attacking Public Schools

Today, Governor Roy Cooper hosted a roundtable discussion at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College to highlight the extreme Republican plans to dismantle public education in North Carolina.
Jun 30, 2023

Today, Governor Roy Cooper hosted a roundtable discussion at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College to highlight the extreme Republican plans to dismantle public education in North Carolina. The Governor was joined by superintendents, school board members, teachers, business leaders, and local elected officials to discuss the disastrous impact proposed Republican legislation would have on North Carolina’s public schools, students, and teachers.


“It’s critical that people tell their legislators that investments in public schools and teacher pay are more important than billions of dollars for private school vouchers and tax breaks for the wealthy,” said Governor Cooper. “As legislators put this budget together, educators, business leaders and school boards are letting them know the importance of strong public schools.”


"The benefits of a quality education are both personal and public for the citizens of Alexander County. Education contributes to economic productivity, strengthens our democracy and enhances the quality of life for individuals and all members of each of our communities,” said Dr. Jennifer Hefner, Superintendent of Alexander County Schools. “While unprecedented amounts of money are spent on public education in North Carolina, if you look at our system of financing public education, you’ll find it inequitable, ineffective and incoherent and I think our students/families deserve better.”


"The students in our public schools represent the future of our state, our local communities, and our economy. Our public schools exist to ensure that each and every child in our state is welcomed into a safe, positive learning environment where they can meet their full potential,” said Rob Elliot, member of the Buncombe County Schools Board of Education. “Our students and public school communities deserve our investment and our best efforts. Legislation that erodes this investment, such as the private school voucher bill, only serves to erode the success of our communities and our state as a whole. I encourage our elected officials in Raleigh to focus on the true needs of our students, teachers, and communities, and invest in the future of North Carolina by investing in our traditional public schools.”


"The voucher proposal uses a zero-sum game approach to funding education in our state. That is, it transfers funding from public education to private education, so one side wins and one side loses. That is horrible public policy and our students will suffer because of it,” said Mike Hawkins, business leader and former Transylvania County commissioner. “It will also require local governments to step in and use property tax revenues to supplement lost public education funding. Thus, it will add to the tax burden of our state's citizens, the only difference being the increased taxes will come from the local level rather than the state level. We can do so much better than this. We can develop funding mechanisms to support public education while facilitating private choice for those families that want it. But this proposal is the opposite of that."


“The doors of NC public schools do not discriminate and are open to all in order that every child may have an opportunity at success,” said Rachael Ray, Western Region Teacher of the Year and Madison County public school teacher. “It is our duty as participants in a democratic society to ensure that these doors continue to stay open, and resources continue to be available so that all children are guaranteed an education that is a launching point for a successful future.”


The Alexander County Schools, Asheville City Schools, Buncombe County Schools, and Madison County Schools boards of education recently passed resolutions calling on legislators to meaningfully invest in public education, including significant teacher pay raises and stopping the proposed voucher program expansion. Education leaders in over 30 school districts across North Carolina have spoken out against these extreme plans that gut funding for public education.


Republicans have pushed a series of sweeping legislation that would dismantle public education. These dangerous bills would cause public schools to lose hundreds of millions of dollars, worsen the state’s teacher shortage and bring political culture wars into classrooms. The proposed voucher program expansion would pour 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.


Expanding voucher eligibility to any K-12 student will force public schools, especially those in rural and poorer counties, to make steep cuts, leaving schools without the resources to hire enough teachers and support students.


In a special address, Governor Cooper declared a State of Emergency for Education and called on North Carolinians to visit to learn more and contact their legislators to ask them to protect public schools.


Watch the Governor’s address.


Read the Governor’s full remarks.


Learn more about North Carolina’s public education emergency.


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