North Carolina governor declares 'state of emergency' over 'extreme' education bills introduced by the state's legislature

North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper affixes his veto stamp to a bill banning nearly all abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy at a public rally Saturday, May 13, 2023, in Raleigh, North Carolina.
North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper holding a veto stamp.Hannah Schoenbaum/AP
  • North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said on Monday that the state's education system is in a "state of emergency."

  • Cooper said education in the state is "under assault" after GOP proposes changes to the curriculum.

  • One bill would prohibit schools from "promoting certain concepts" related to race and sex.

In response to a wave of "extreme" legislation proposed by Republicans in the state, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared a "state of emergency" for its education system on Monday.

Cooper pointed out six bills now moving through the North Carolina legislature, two related to private school vouchers and four that would give politicians and parents more control over what material is allowed in school curriculums.

"Public education powers our workforce, builds our businesses, and boosts our communities. Unfortunately, our public schools are under assault," Cooper said. "The current General Assembly is considering extreme legislation that would cripple our public education system."

Conservatives across the country have pushed to remove books and other materials that they disagree with from schools over the past year. And in some states, like Wisconsin and Idaho, lawmakers have introduced laws that would strip teachers and librarians of their protections against penalties for distributing "harmful" material to minors.

In Florida, the state legislature passed the so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill, which prohibits the discussion of LGBTQ topics in classrooms. It also passed a law that forces teachers to pay union dues through mail-in checks.

Several similar bills have made their way through Congress as well, such as the Protect Childhood Innocence Act, introduced by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene last year, which if passed would ban institutions of higher learning from "providing instruction on gender-affirming care."

Cooper, a Democrat, declared the state of emergency during a press conference on Monday, asking North Carolinians to contact their state legislator to complain about the recently introduced bills.

One of the proposed laws would create a "standard course advisory commission" that would recommend curriculum standards for the state's schools, and a second bill that would prohibit schools from "promoting certain concepts."

Among them is the concept that "one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex." And another one is that "an individual solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex."

Another proposed law would amend the state constitution to allow State Board of Education members to be elected. Vacant seats would be filled by a governor's appointment but would need to be approved by the legislature under the proposed law.

In a news release, Cooper said that these new laws would force the State Board of Education into partisan elections and take its authority away.

"Let education experts make curriculum decisions on what students learn," Cooper said.

Cooper also said that creating a voucher system to send kids to private schools without income limits would effectively allow millionaires to send their kids to private schools for free.

"Stop private school vouchers with no income limits," Cooper said. "It will rob public schools of needed funding and sanctions discrimination. Instead, use public money for public schools."

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