Gov. Cooper denounces voucher program at education roundtableBy Ivan Saul Cutler, Carolina Peacemaker / June 21, 2023
N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper called on citizens to protest the General Assembly’s Republican legislative majority’s efforts to expand private school vouchers. He vociferously charged that the “extreme scheme” would eviscerate traditional public schools, discriminate against most economically marginalized students and students of color, and thwart economic development throughout the state.
In Greensboro hosting an educational roundtable at Western Guilford Middle School, the governor facilitated a discussion of area school leaders and public officials, denouncing the proposed legislation as an intentionally “devastating” plan to undermine and underfund public education.
Among the school board and public leaders participating in the meeting at Western Guilford were Guilford County Schools Superintendent Whitney Oakley and County Commissioner Chair Melvin “Skip” Alston. Cooper recently declared an education State of Emergency in May and since then, he has been meeting with education leaders throughout the state.
Cooper said the Republicans want to push a series of sweeping legislation that would dismantle public education. “These extreme bills would cause public schools to lose hundreds of millions of dollars, exacerbate the state’s teacher shortage and bring political culture wars into classrooms,” he said. The bills propose pouring billions of dollars in taxpayer money into private schools that are unaccountable to the public and can decide which students they want to admit. Their plan would expand private school vouchers so anyone – even a millionaire – can get taxpayer money for their children’s private school tuition.
“We cannot afford to be the best state for businesses and the worst in education. We need the North Carolina General Assembly to help increase teacher pay to attract the best teachers possible to teach our students,” said Oakley. “We must make North Carolina number one in teacher pay. We also need the General Assembly to increase pay for frontline workers, bus drivers, custodial staff, maintenance workers, plumbers, electricians and technology staff. They are essential to the success of our schools.”