Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared the state’s public education system to be in a state of emergency following GOP legislative gains regarding school choice and parental rights, during a Monday special address.
Cooper urged residents of the state to call state lawmakers’ offices and tell them that recent school choice legislation and proposed teacher raises have the potential to “choke the life out of public education,” according to the special address. The state House passed a piece of legislation Wednesday in a 65-45 vote that would make all students eligible to have the state cover nearly half the average cost of attending a private school.
“It’s clear that the Republican legislature is aiming to choke the life out of public education,” Cooper said in a press release. “I’m declaring this a state of emergency because you need to know what’s happening. If you care about public schools in North Carolina, it’s time to take immediate action and tell them to stop the damage that will set back our schools for a generation.”
The school choice proposal would allow “even millionaires” to receive taxpayer funding for their child’s education, taking resources from public schools, Cooper said in a press release. Cooper said that state Senate Republicans’ proposal to give veteran teachers a 4.5% raise over two years as opposed to his proposed 18% raise will lead to greater teacher shortages.
In February, the state Senate and House passed legislation that would require educators to tell parents if their child is transitioning genders at school. The legislation also prohibits lessons on gender identity and sexual orientation in K-4 classrooms.
“The government is not a partner in raising our children,” Republican state Sen. Amy Galey told WRAL News, a North Carolina-based outlet, following the passing of the bill.
Throughout the country, lawmakers are pushing for school choice legislation and bills that would keep gender ideology out of the classroom. In March, Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a piece of legislation creating a universal school choice program. Iowa lawmakers are also weighing a bill that would prohibit teachers from giving lessons “relating to gender identity” for students in K-8 classes in public and charter school classrooms.
“Republican leaders want to inject their political culture wars into classrooms across North Carolina with bills that would put politicians in charge of curriculum setting, micromanage what teachers can teach, and target LGBTQ+ students,” Cooper said in a press release.
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