North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, declared a state of emergency Monday because the state Legislature is expected to override his veto of a school choice bill.
“I’m declaring the state of emergency because you need to know what’s happening,” Cooper said during an address in the state capital of Raleigh. “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.”
By “them,” Cooper apparently was referring to Republican lawmakers and other supporters of school choice for parents.
Cooper then ascribed this generation-size “damage” to providing education opportunities to parents, which would allow them to choose where to send their children by sending state education funds to a school of their choosing.
The Democratic governor described this as a “scheme,” saying:
Their private school voucher scheme will pour your tax money into private schools that are unaccountable to the public and can decide which students they want to keep out. They want to expand private school vouchers so that anyone, even a millionaire, can get taxpayer money for their children’s private academy tuition.
Cooper failed to mention that he sent his own children to a private school, and that the vast majority of those using school choice programs such as vouchers or education savings accounts across the United States are (and have always been) in the lower and middle classes.
North Carolina’s Senate Bill 406, named the “Choose Your School, Choose Your Future” bill, would eliminate income requirements for any student to apply for a scholarship covering up to 45% of tuition at a school of his choice.
The governor also claimed that when students “leave public schools for private schools, the public schools lose hundreds of millions of dollars.”
No evidence supports this claim. In 2021, North Carolina spent $10,791 a year per student.
State Sen. Michael Lee, R-New Hanover, said at a press conference that the average expected award per student under SB 406 would be $5,600 annually—almost half of what North Carolina already pays per student.
But Cooper warned that the legislation “drops an atomic bomb on public education by shrinking the state’s budget by almost 20%.” The governor also argued that school superintendents would have to cut programs in art, music, and sports, as well as advanced classes.
No evidence supports this claim, either. Although the governor may be alluding to expected anticipated funding lost from tax cuts passed by the North Carolina Legislature, funding for the state’s public schools has increased with each budget passed over the last decade.
No information was available concerning actionable steps for North Carolina citizens recommended by the governor’s office during the state of emergency.
The initial reaction to Cooper’s declaration of an emergency was highly negative.
“The Left is losing control over the minds of other peoples’ children, and they can’t handle it,” Corey DeAngelis, senior fellow at the American Federation for Children, said in a written statement to The Daily Signal. “It’s obvious with hypocrite Gov. Roy Cooper’s state of emergency declaration that he issued it to cry about all N.C. families getting school choice.”
Cooper was expected to veto the bill, and it would require the vote of 60% of state lawmakers to override a veto.
Despite the fact that Cooper’s last two vetoes have been overridden in the past few weeks, and the support of 102 Republican lawmakers for SB 406, the governor’s veto was expected shortly.
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