Strong Schools, Strong Communities, a Strong North Carolina

Governor Cooper has declared 2024 the "Year of Public Schools." North Carolina public schools are doing amazing work that transforms lives, creates opportunity, and strengthens our communities and our economy. Strong communities are built on strong public schools.

More than 8 in 10 school-aged children in North Carolina attend public schools, and surveys show parents are satisfied with their children’s experiences.  We must continue to invest in our public schools, and North Carolina families and communities shouldn’t lose resources and choices for quality public education to help wealthy people pay to send their kids to unaccountable and unregulated private schools.

Click here to read more about this unaccountable voucher scheme.

Governor Cooper is calling on you to contact your legislators in Raleigh and candidates running for those offices and specifically ask them to do four things for our public schools:

  1. Learn about the great things happening in our public schools.
  2. Pay teachers like the professionals they are.
  3. Expand access to early childhood education, quality child care, and pre-kindergarten.
  4. Place a moratorium on private school vouchers until our PUBLIC schools are fully funded.

Our public schools are doing a great job of educating our children

Public schools are the glue that binds communities together. Public schools provide a wealth of academic opportunities and extracurricular activities. They are required to help students with disabilities and must provide transportation and school meals.

  • NC public schools are seeing some of the highest graduation rates in our state’s history, graduating 87 percent of seniors in 2023.[1]
  • Our students earned a record 325,000 workforce credentials last school year in key areas such as information technology, construction trades and healthcare, which strengthen our local economies.[2]
  • More than one-third of high school graduates take at least one college course for credit, preparing them for meaningful careers that boost our communities.[3]
  • North Carolina has the most National Board-certified teachers in the nation – one of the highest recognitions teachers can earn.[4]
  • Since 2019, four NC educators have been recognized nationally: national school psychologist, counselor, superintendent, and a finalist for national teacher of the year.[5]
  • NC Pre-K is one of the best early childhood programs in the nation. Third graders who participated in NC Pre-K scored higher on reading and math tests than peers who didn’t participate in NC Pre-K.[6]

Despite the success of our schools, underfunding and attacks are putting them at risk

A troubling trend is emerging.  North Carolina now ranks near the bottom nationally in K-12 funding.

  • We spend nearly $5,000 less per student than the national average – 48th in the nation.[7]
  • No state in America spends less of its Gross State Product on public education than North Carolina. We rank dead last.[8]
  • We rank 46th nationally in beginning teacher pay – worse than Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee.[9]

For the last two years North Carolina has ranked first in America in business. But we can’t continue to be first in business if we become last in education. 

We should invest in our public schools rather than paying for wealthy people to send their kids to unaccountable and unregulated private schools

The legislature plans to spend more than $4 billion over the next decade in taxpayer funding on vouchers for unaccountable and unregulated private schools.[10] This is the wrong choice.

  • Private schools that get public money don’t have to report what they teach, hire licensed teachers, report how their students perform, or which students they’ll accept.
  • Just in the first year, private school vouchers could siphon more than $200 million in state funding from public schools. Some school districts will lose up to 8 percent of their operating revenue to private schools.[11]
  • In more than a third of NC counties, public schools are the largest employer and a top 3 employer in more than 80 counties.5 Cuts to public schools hurt more than just the students.
  • Taxpayers living in rural counties can’t get vouchers because private schools in rural areas are rare. Nearly one-fifth of our state’s counties have only one private school or no private schools.[12]  Instead, their tax dollars will go to families in urban areas who send their kids to private schools. That’s not fair.

Instead of funding private school vouchers, let’s expand access to pre-kindergarten, raise teacher pay, buy school supplies, build high-tech science labs and libraries, and help ensure that our students with disabilities get the education the state constitution guarantees them.


[4] State Rankings by Total Number of National Board Certified Teachers , National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

[5] Leigh Kokenes, 2019 National School Psychologist of the Year; Meredith Draughn, 2023 National School Counselor of the Year; Catty Moore, 2022 National Superintendent of the Year by Magnet Schools of America; Maureen Stover, Finalist for 2021 National Teacher of the Year

[6] North Carolina Pre-Kindergarten Program Evaluation, Key Findings (2002–2016)

[7] Making the Grade, Education Law Center

[8] EdNC, New Report shows North Carolina’s K-12 public school funding is among the lowest in the country

[9] News & Observer, NC ranks near the bottom in US in pay for beginning teachers. How far behind is it?