Roy Cooper on Education
Let's give kids a better start by investing more in early childhood education. We've worked together to expand pre-K to thousands more students, but we shouldn't stop until every child has it.
Let's give our students safe, healthy places to learn. Right now, 4 in 10 public schools in our state are at least 50 years old. That means they're still using the schools you and I went to. That's great for nostalgia, but not so good for students in classrooms with unreliable heat, leaking roofs or crumbling walls. K through 12 schools need at least 8 billion dollars in new construction and renovations let's have the people vote on a strong school construction bond.
I've laid out aggressive goals to make North Carolina a Top Ten Educated State by 2025--emphasizing early childhood education, increasing enrollment in pre-kindergarten, improving our high school graduation rate and increasing the percentage of adults with a higher education degree.
My budget creates nearly 4,700 additional Pre-Kindergarten slots to eliminate the wait-list of at-risk four year olds. Getting more kids in pre-K means they'll arrive at school ready to learn. It's the foundation for a lifetime of success, showing economic and health benefits well beyond their pre-K years. And it allows both parents to stay in the workforce, a necessity for many North Carolina families.
To give people in the middle class more opportunity to afford higher education, let's pass a workforce program we call NC GROW- Getting Ready for Opportunities in the Workforce. It means free community college--a scholarship to cover last-dollar tuition and fees for recent high school graduates to attend a North Carolina community college.
To earn it, young people have to make good grades and apply for already-existing scholarships, loans and grant programs. It's an idea that Republican and Democratic governors alike have supported in other states. We can make it a bipartisan reality here in North Carolina.
When Gov. Jim Hunt was in office, Cooper said, North Carolina was ranked 20th in teacher pay. Now there are reports that the state has dropped to 42nd in the nation in teacher pay and 46th in per pupil expenditures, the attorney general cited. Similar cuts have been made at community colleges and universities, what Cooper called the "economic engine."
"I believe the people of North Carolina want to support public education and want to support leaders who believe in education as a key to the future," Cooper said, noting conversations with many unaffiliated and moderate Republicans who feel the same way.