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Gov. Cooper And Education Leaders Advocate For Protecting Public Schools

Source: Greenville Daily Reflector

At a roundtable discussion last week, local education leaders and Governor Roy Cooper called for state lawmakers to include meaningful investments towards public schools in the budget. 

Since declaring that public education in North Carolina is facing a state of emergency earlier this year, Gov. Cooper has called out state Republicans’ negligence in providing a budget that would address longstanding unmet needs plaguing schools. 

Months without a finalized state budget and the NCGOP prioritizing private schools in their recent measures, has put an ever-increasing strain on public schools.

In the latest legislative session, state Republicans introduced House Bill 823, which will use taxpayer money to bolster up state-Republican-led Opportunity Scholarships. Senate Bill 406 would divert over $2.2 billion of taxpayer money for private school vouchers over the next 10 years.

Both bills would benefit the wealthy and those already enrolled in private schools, while neglecting millions of students across the state. 

“They want a voucher program on steroids,” stated Gov. Cooper during an interview. “That means the very wealthiest North Carolinians who already have their kids in private school will get a taxpayer-funded subsidy.”

Local and state education leaders agree with the Governor’s sentiments, with one superintendent calling the voucher system, “legislated segregation.”

“Public school is supposed to be about equity. It’s supposed to be about diversity, and this is doing everything but embrace equity and diversity,” stated Tanya Turner, Perquimans County Schools Superintendent. “It’s segregating, and it’s hurting our kids and hurting our school systems.”

According to reporting by The Assembly, the private school voucher program skews predominantly white; just 20 percent of Opportunity Scholarship recipients were Black last school year. Meanwhile, 61 percent of recipients were white last school year, The Assembly reported.

“Private schools have basically no accountability,” Turner added. “If we want to fund private schools with tax dollars from the state, then everybody should be held accountable to the same standards.”

In response to state Republican’s effort to push the private school voucher system, The Public School Forum of North Carolina issued a policy brief that proposes transparency and accountability measures for the state’s Opportunity Scholarship Program.

“North Carolina does not require participating non-public schools to be accredited, nor to have state approval of any kind,” the brief states. 

“NC also has no requirements around curriculum, teacher preparation or certification, state testing programs, or instructional hours.”

The forum recommends that the state implement these six accountability measures:

  • Require accreditation.
  • Require the administration of state assessments and reports on results.
  • Require aligned curricula.
  • Establish employee requirements.
  • Require enrollment reporting.
  • Require the same financial reporting as public schools.

Read more at Greenville Daily Reflector.

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