Thursday, February 8, 2024

Governor Cooper Tours Pactolus Global School in Greenville, Highlights How Strong Public Schools Make Strong Communities Gov. Cooper Declared 2024 as “The Year of Public Schools”

Today, Governor Roy Cooper visited Pactolus Global School in Greenville as part of “The Year of Public Schools” education tour.
Feb 8, 2024

Today, Governor Roy Cooper visited Pactolus Global School in Greenville as part of “The Year of Public Schools” education tour. The Governor was joined by teachers, students, local and state education leaders and local elected officials as he highlighted the outstanding work being done at Pactolus Global and Pitt County’s public schools and the ways that public education is strengthening North Carolina’s communities.

The Governor again called for K-12 education and early childhood funding as well as meaningful investments in greater teacher pay in the upcoming legislative session. The Governor also called for a stop to state spending on vouchers for unaccountable and unregulated private schools until North Carolina’s public schools are fully funded.

“There is amazing work being done right here at Pactolus Global and in public schools across the state to offer students a high-quality education from cradle to career,” said Governor Cooper. “We must continue to fight for improved teacher pay and other meaningful investments in public education. I encourage North Carolinians to reach out to candidates running for office, legislators and elected officials to ask them to fully fund our state’s public schools.”

“This school is rich in both culture and opportunity,” said Pactolus Global School Principal Kimberly Lucas. “As a global school, we embed certain tenets in our daily work and into our lessons. Those tenets include self-awareness, respect for differences, global connections, curiosity, flexibility, effective communication, critical thinking, empathy, understanding of global issues and intercultural understanding. We have witnessed the similar pains felt among public schools throughout the State, which include teacher shortages and the lingering effects that the pandemic has had on students. However, everyday I watch my teachers give everything that they have to these students, and they do it with love and enthusiasm. Public educators are the real heroes.”

"Truly amazing what teachers do with our students," said Pitt County Schools Superintendent Dr. Ethan Lenker. "It doesn’t always get measured, but we can see walking around this school and we have a whole lot of schools just like this in Pitt County, that do amazing things with students and get great accomplishments and great results, that don’t always show up with a one letter grade system."

This year, the Governor will highlight North Carolina’s strong public schools, teachers and staff across the state to show the positive impacts of a well-funded public education system on the state’s economy and communities. The Governor will also spotlight the dangers of underfunding our schools while pouring millions of dollars into in an unregulated private school voucher program that sends taxpayer money to private academies.

In Pitt County, 85% of school-aged children attend public schools, and public schools in Pitt County and across the state excel at preparing students for success from cradle to career.

  • The 2023 graduation rate for Pitt County high school students was 82%.
  • In 2023, North Carolina public school students earned more than 325,000 workforce credentials while in high school. Over 6,000 of those workforce credentials were earned by Pitt County students.
  • North Carolina has the most National Board-certified teachers in the nation – one of the highest recognitions teachers can earn. In Pitt County, 138 teachers are National Board-certified.
  • In 2023, more than one-third of North Carolina high school graduates and 56% of graduates in Pitt County took a college course for credit while in high school.

However, Republican legislators continue to push policies that undermine and politicize public education. The budget enacted by the legislature last year expanded the private school voucher program by $250 million over the next two years, for a total of $4 billion over the next ten years.

  • Under the expanded voucher program, public schools in Pitt County could lose nearly $2.5 million in state education funding just in the first year of the expanded program. That loss in funding not only impacts students, but also Pitt County's workforce. Public schools are the third-largest employer in Pitt County.

Legislators also pushed legislation through the General Assembly that will scare teachers into silence by injecting fear and uncertainty into our public school classrooms.

During his final year as Governor, Gov. Cooper is committed to prioritizing public schools and to hearing from the many communities across the state who know that strong public schools ensure we have strong communities.

Read "The Year of Public Schools" proclamation here.

Read the Governor’s remarks from “The Year of Public Schools” launch event here.


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