Thursday, February 29, 2024

Governor Cooper Tours G.E. Massey Elementary School in Lincolnton, Highlights How Strong Public Schools Make Strong Communities Gov. Cooper Declared 2024 “The Year of Public Schools”

Feb 29, 2024

Today, Governor Roy Cooper visited G.E. Massey Elementary 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 G.E. Massey Elementary School and Lincoln County public schools and the ways that public education is strengthening North Carolina’s communities. During the visit, Governor Cooper celebrated Read Across America week by reading to a NC Pre-K class.

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.

“Public schools in Lincoln County and across North Carolina teach fundamental skills like reading and math to prepare our students for the future,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “We need to urge the legislature to fully fund our public schools so our students continue to grow, as they transition from building blocks to building bridges.”

“G.E. Massey is proud to be a public school that serves the Lincoln County Community, as we strive to grow responsible and successful citizens,” said G.E. Massey Elementary School Principal Holly Skibo. “Our school works to ensure that at the youngest age students have a pathway to success, by teaching foundational skills for learning. G.E. Massey is committed to educating all students and is honored to have supportive community partners which help to empower our families in the classroom and throughout life.”

“Traditional public schools in NC continue to be the leader in shaping the future of our community workforce, sustaining economic progress, and providing readiness opportunities for students to achieve credentials and experiences that will influence student opportunities for their growth,” said Lincoln County Schools Superintendent Dr. Aaron Allen. “An investment at the state and local level is paramount for optimal continued progress. In this age of school choice, I feel Lincoln County Schools is the best option for families in our county to provide a high quality, whole child focused, and life ready opportunity that will allow for an exceptional enrollment, enlistment, or employment experience after graduation.”

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 Lincoln County, 87.7% of school-aged children attend public schools, and public schools in Lincoln County and across the state excel at preparing students for success from cradle to career.

  • The 2023 graduation rate for Lincoln County high school students was 89.2%.
  • In 2023, North Carolina public school students earned more than 325,000 workforce credentials while in high school. Nearly 3,000 of those workforce credentials were earned by Lincoln County students.
  • North Carolina has the most National Board-certified teachers in the nation - one of the highest recognitions teachers can earn. In Lincoln County, 72 teachers are National Board-certified.
  • In 2023, more than one-third of North Carolina high school graduates and 48% of graduates in Lincoln 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 Lincoln County could lose nearly $800,000 in state education funding just in the first year of the expanded program. That loss in funding not only impacts students, but also Lincoln County’s workforce. In 2022, public schools were the second largest employer in Lincoln 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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