Governor Cooper Tours Dorothy B. Johnson Pre-K Center, Highlights How Strong Public Schools Make Strong Communities

Government and Politics

April 16, 2024

From: North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper

RALEIGH, NC -- On April 16th, Governor Roy Cooper visited Dorothy B. Johnson Pre-K Center as part of “The Year of Public Schools” education tour. The Governor was joined by teachers, students, local education leaders and local elected officials as he highlighted the outstanding work being done at the Dorothy B. Johnson Pre-K Center and New Hanover County Schools and the ways that public education is strengthening North Carolina’s communities.

The Governor again called for fully funding K-12 education as well as meaningful investments in early childhood education and teacher pay in the upcoming legislative session. The Governor also called for a stop to state spending on vouchers for unaccountable and unregulated private schools until North Carolina’s public schools are fully funded.

“The Dorothy B. Johnson Pre-K Center is creating a strong foundation for children in New Hanover County,” said Governor Cooper. “We need to make meaningful investments in Pre-K and our public schools so students across North Carolina are given the resources to succeed.”

“In New Hanover County Schools, public education begins with Pre-K. We have tripled our pre-K enrollment in the last decade because we believe every child should get equal access to a strong start at learning,” said New Hanover County School Superintendent Dr. Charles Foust. “Public schools are the cornerstones of our communities, and we are proud to have Gov. Cooper here to celebrate the dedication of our educators and the success of our students.”

“We were excited to welcome Governor Cooper to Johnson Pre-K and show him how we’re giving every student the opportunity to be kindergarten-ready,” said Dorothy B. Johnson Pre-K Center Director Dr. Karen McCarty. “Pre-K is the foundation for school success and lifelong learning, and we’re grateful to be part of a public school system that knows the value of early education.”

This year, the Governor will highlight North Carolina’s strong public schools, teachers and staff across the state to show the positive impacts of a well-funded public education system on the state’s economy and communities. The Governor will also spotlight the dangers of underfunding our schools while pouring millions of dollars into an unregulated private school voucher program that sends taxpayer money to private academies.

In New Hanover County, 82.5% of school-aged children attend public schools, and public schools in New Hanover County and across the state excel at preparing students for success from cradle to career.

- The 2023 graduation rate for New Hanover was 88.4%.

- In 2023, North Carolina public school students earned more than 325,000 workforce credentials while in high school. More than 1,900 of those workforce credentials were earned by New Hanover County students.

- In 2023, more than one-third of North Carolina high school graduates and 51% of graduates from New Hanover County took a college course for credit while in high school.

- North Carolina has the highest number of National Board-certified teachers in the country (over 24,000), including 225 in New Hanover County.

However, Republican legislators continue to push policies that undermine and politicize public education. The budget enacted by the legislature last year expanded the private school voucher program by $250 million over the next two years, for a total of $4 billion over the next ten years.

- Under the expanded voucher program, public schools in New Hanover County could lose over $1,800,000 in state education funding just in the first year of the expanded program. That loss in funding not only impacts students, but also New Hanover County’s workforce. Public schools are the second largest employer in New Hanover County.

During his final year as Governor, Gov. Cooper is committed to prioritizing public schools and to hearing from the many communities across the state who know that strong public schools ensure we have strong communities.

Read "The Year of Public Schools" proclamation here.

Read the Governor’s remarks from “The Year of Public Schools” launch event here.