GREENVILLE, N.C. — Governor Roy Cooper hosted a roundtable discussion at the Kathy Taft Center for Leadership and Excellence in Pitt County on Thursday.

He held the event to highlight what he has called “the extreme Republican plans to undermine and underfund public education in North Carolina.”

The Governor was joined by superintendents, school board members, teachers and local elected officials to discuss the impact he says Republican legislation would have on North Carolina’s public schools and the urgent need for legislators to do their jobs by passing a budget that makes meaningful investments in public education.

“Education leaders across the state continue to speak out against unaccountable private school vouchers for the wealthy that will hurt our public schools,” said Cooper. “It’s time for a budget that makes meaningful investments in public school teachers and students.”

“The private voucher system does not provide a uniform system of education for all students as the options are limited to many children due to the need for transportation, the need for special services, and other needed resources including the ability to receive free or reduced meals,” said Perquimans County Schools Superintendent Dr. Tanya Turner. “By increasing the private vouchers, funding provided by our taxpayers for a uniform system of education will be significantly decreased which will greatly impact the quality of education provided by our public schools. Our country has worked hard for equity among all groups of people and public education is the foundation for this to be achieved.”

“I am very appreciative of the opportunities brought forth by Governor Cooper to bring these educational issues to the forefront. It is imperative that parents, students, community members and educational stakeholders continue to stay on top of our needs and issues to help us by supporting our efforts, contacting legislators and ultimately making sure we elect officials whose voting records truly reflect support and growth for their communities and districts,” said Julio Morales, English as a Second Language Teacher in Hyde County. “The success of public schools is everyone’s business if we care to have a promising future for our state.”

In May 2023, the Hertford County, Hyde County, Perquimans County and Pitt County superintendents signed onto a letter with other superintendents in the northeast region highlighting the negative impacts that the proposed voucher expansion would have on school districts in their region.

In a special address, Governor Cooper declared a State of Emergency for Education and called on North Carolinians to visit to learn more and contact their legislators to ask them to protect public schools.

We did reach out to Republican representatives in our area about the expanded voucher program. Rep. Phil Shepard in Onslow County said in part, “The state voucher program is being expanded to enable more students to be able to attend private schools. Parents should be able to choose where to send their children.”

Republicans have said they expect to release their version of the state budget later this month.