Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Governor Cooper Tours Smith High School in Greensboro During Teacher Appreciation Week, Highlights How Strong Public Schools Make Strong Communities Gov. Cooper Declared 2024 as “The Year of Public Schools”

May 7, 2024

Today, Governor Roy Cooper celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week at Smith High School in Greensboro 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 Smith High School and how 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.

“Teachers here at Smith High School and across our state help students pursue their dreams,” said Governor Cooper. “This Teacher Appreciation Week, I’m urging our legislators to show teachers our appreciation with a significant and well deserved pay raise.”

The Governor recently announced his FY24-25 budget that includes investments in North Carolina public schools and early childhood and child care system. The Governor’s budget would raise teacher pay by 8.5% and invest over $1 billion in public schools while placing a moratorium on taxpayer-funded private school vouchers.

“Smith High is proud to partner with NC Fame through the Advanced Manufacturing Signature Career Academy. Our students are building bridges as an engineering project, creating hydraulic arms and learning about mechatronics and the computerized sensors that allow modern manufacturing to take place,” said Smith High School Principal Valerie Akins. “They can take these skills and use them in college or go straight into the workforce, with high-paying jobs right here in the Triad.”

“Public education is the backbone of our society. We are building the next generation of leaders, skilled workers and entrepreneurs,” said Guilford County Superintendent Dr. Whitney Oakley. “We also join with parents in teaching children to become healthy, productive citizens who give back to their communities in meaningful ways and who accept and support those who are different from them.”

In Guilford County, 87% of school-aged children attend public schools, and public schools in Guilford County and across the state excel at preparing students for success from cradle to career.

  • The 2023 graduation rate for Guilford County was 91%.
  • In 2023, North Carolina public school students earned more than 325,000 workforce credentials while in high school. 8,250 of those workforce credentials were earned by Guilford County students.
  • In 2023, more than one-third of North Carolina high school graduates took a college course for credit while in high school.
  • North Carolina has the highest number of National Board-certified teachers in the country (over 24,000), including 261 in Guilford County.

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 Guilford County could lose over $11 million in state education funding just in the first year of the expanded program. That loss in funding not only impacts students, but also the Guilford County workforce. Public schools are the largest employer in Guilford County.

Republican legislators have also shown their top priority during the short session will be using more taxpayer money to fund private school vouchers for millionaires by proposing yet another expansion that will amount to more than $625 million in new funding just for the 2024-2025 fiscal year. In response, Democratic legislative leaders filed new legislation that would place a moratorium on more taxpayer-funded private school vouchers until our public schools are fully funded and put additional accountability metrics in place for private schools to ensure student success.

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 “Teacher Appreciation Week” proclamation here.

Read "The Year of Public Schools" proclamation here.

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

Read more about the truth of North Carolina's voucher program here.


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