Friday, February 9, 2024

Governor Cooper Tours East Carteret High School in Beaufort, Highlights How Strong Public Schools Make Strong Communities Gov. Cooper Declared 2024 as “The Year of Public Schools”

Today, Governor Roy Cooper visited East Carteret High School as part of “The Year of Public Schools” education tour.
Feb 9, 2024

Today, Governor Roy Cooper visited East Carteret High School 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 East Carteret High and Carteret County’s public schools and the ways that public education is strengthening North Carolina’s communities.

The Governor again called for fully funding K-12 education as well as meaningful investments in early childhood education and  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 are outstanding things happening in our public schools right here at East Carteret and in every corner of our state,” said Governor Cooper. “We need to keep fighting for increased teacher pay and other meaningful investments in public education so our schools have the resources they need. I encourage North Carolinians to get in touch with local elected officials, legislators and candidates running for office and tell them how critical it is to fully fund our state’s public schools.”

“East Carteret High School is excited for Governor Cooper to come in and see the hard work of our teachers and students as we work to prepare kids for life after high school,” said East Carteret High School Principal Jay Westbrook, “We focus on academics while meeting the needs of students in preparation for their continuation to a university or community college, directly to the workforce, to a trade program, or to enlistment in the armed forces.”

“We are proud to have Governor Roy Cooper and his team visit East Carteret High School to see some of the amazing things happening in our Carteret County Public Schools,” said Carteret County Schools Superintendent Richie Paylor. “We are fortunate to operate a top-tier school system, fueled by excellent educators and committed community partners.”

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 an unregulated private school voucher program that sends taxpayer money to private academies.

In Carteret County, 81% of school-aged children attend public schools, and public schools in Carteret County and across the state excel at preparing students for success from cradle to career.

  • The 2023 graduation rate for Carteret County high school students was 84%.
  • In 2023, North Carolina public school students earned more than 325,000 workforce credentials while in high school. Nearly 1,800 of those workforce credentials were earned by Carteret County students.
  • North Carolina has the most National Board-certified teachers in the nation – one of the highest recognitions teachers can earn. In Carteret County, 70 teachers are National Board-certified.
  • In 2023, more than one-third of North Carolina high school graduates and 51% of graduates in Carteret 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 Carteret County could lose over $1 million in state education funding just in the first year of the expanded program. That loss in funding not only impacts students, but also Carteret County’s workforce. In 2022, public schools were the largest employer in Carteret County.

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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