North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper issued a prerecorded speech declaring a ‘state of emergency’ as Republicans are on the verge of passing education reforms amidst failures in the public school system.
But even Cooper, a Democrat, seemed to acknowledge that the state of emergency was more rhetorical and political than it was one of policy, promising not to issue any related executive order.
“It’s time to declare a State of Emergency for public education in North Carolina. There’s no Executive Order like with a hurricane or the pandemic, but it’s no less important,” Cooper said in the speech, reported by Fox News.
The move comes as traditional Democrats show signs of abandoning the party over decades- long failed education policies.
One such convert, North Carolina state Rep. Tricia Cotham, who switched her party affiliation from Democrat to Republican over education policies, chastised the governor for not understanding the true nature of the emergency.
“The true emergency here is that the governor is advocating for systems rather than students themselves,” Cotham said in a statement, according to the AP. “Education is not one-size-fits-all, and North Carolina families should have the freedom to determine what kind of education is best for them.”
Cotham called the governor’s speech “political theatre.”
Part of Cooper’s extreme reaction is because Cotham’s defection gives the Republican-controlled North Carolina legislature a veto-proof super-majority.
Cooper recently lost veto fights to the GOP over First Amendment issues and abortion-on- demand reforms.
And now comes the GOP Legislature approving a plan which would open K-12 opportunity scholarships to all families regardless of income. Essentially, that means a parent can pick any school and use public tax dollars to pay for it.
Such plans making tax dollars for public education portable, represents an existential threat to teachers’ unions, one of the strongest supporters of the Democrat party, which critics say is the true “state of emergency” that Cooper is talking about.
Cooper said that to combat the GOP, citizens need to go to his website and contact their legislators to oppose the Republican-backed plan to reform education in the state.
North Carolina state Senate Leader Phil Berger said Cooper’s actions were of little value in helping reform education.
“Meaningless publicity stunts do nothing to improve educational outcomes in our state,” Randy Brechbiel of the Senate President Pro Tempore’s office wrote in response to a query from local media. “The House and Senate will continue working together to put forward budget proposals that address the needs of students and parents.”
State Rep. John Bell said via Twitter that the governor’s actions were “shameful” and “fake.”
“It’s shameful that @NC_Governor would declare a fake state of emergency when real people are still homeless & waiting for him to deliver on the help he promised them six years ago after Hurricanes Matthew & then Florence. Let’s stop the publicity stunts & get to work. #ncpol #ncga,” wrote Bell.