MILLS: Gov. Cooper’s stunt hurts education in NC

Gov. Roy Cooper briefs media at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh. Photo via NC Dept of Public Safety

As a public school teacher, I am appalled by Gov. Roy Cooper’s latest stunt. He has declared a state of emergency for an “education crisis” that does not exist. This is nothing more than a publicity stunt to try to score political points with those that oppose freedom in education.

Schools closed unnecessarily for months on end; THAT is a crisis. Learning loss, social struggles and youth mental health; THAT is a crisis. Toxic ideologies permeating our teachers colleges; THAT is a crisis. Indeed, the real crises in education stem from arrogant politicians like Roy Cooper failing our students over and over again.

As I write, we have far too many students who are not grade-level proficient in reading and math. For the governor to be fooling around with fake emergency declarations over his dissipating political power is an insult to every struggling child in this state. Gov. Cooper knows this, but he is beholden to the radical political organizations who purport to represent public school teachers like me.  They, and therefore Gov. Cooper, are opposed to any changes that would give parents more control over their children’s education.

Gov. Cooper and the special interest groups may be afraid of losing political control over education, but Parents are right to seek the option that’s best for their children and families. Moreover, Republicans in the N.C. General Assembly are right to offer educational choice to each and every child in North Carolina.

Publicity stunts like the one Gov. Cooper pulled Monday hurt our schools, whether it be public or private. Instead of resolving to  ensure North Carolina’s public schools remain a great option for North Carolina families by offering transparency and a focus on academics, he instead seeks to hold all our students hostage.

If the governor truly doesn’t believe parents have a right to choose the best education for their children, he should say so. But first, he should do some research, because most North Carolina families vehemently disagree. Surveys consistently show a vast majority of North Carolinians, across all political stripes, support school choice policies. And it’s not just one outlier poll, either.

A 2022 poll by the Civitas Institute found that 78% of North Carolinians support school choice, including 63% of Democrats and 92% of Republicans.

A 2021 poll by the Public Policy Institute of North Carolina found that 72% of North Carolinians support school choice, including 62% of Democrats and 84% of Republicans.

A 2020 poll by the Elon University Poll found that 70% of North Carolinians support school choice, including 58% of Democrats and 82% of Republicans.

These numbers constitute a strong trend of support for school choice policies with which the governor is completely out of step.

As a public school teacher, I want my students to realize their full potential to lead prosperous lives. For some of them, that might mean a different learning environment. They should be afforded that opportunity.

I urge Gov. Cooper to withdraw his phony state of emergency and to stop fighting against the vast majority of North Carolinians who believe school choice policies are a common-sense reform that enables children to get the best out of education.

Governor, please put students first. Stop the theatrics in opposition to North Carolina families, and start working in a genuine way to improve our public schools. 

Susan Mills is the Vice Chair of the North Carolina Republican Party