RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Governor Roy Cooper declared a “State of Emergency” for public education in North Carolina, challenging Republican-led policies.

Cooper said more state funds need to go toward public schools and teacher pay raises, instead of expanding private school vouchers and tax cuts.

“Anyone, even a millionaire, can get taxpayer money for their children’s private academy tuition,” Cooper said in a video address. “When kids leave public schools for private school, the public schools lose hundreds of millions of dollars.”

However, some parents, like Brian Jodice who moved his children into private school during the pandemic, see expanded private school vouchers as something to support.

“It’s empowered families across our state to really have some choice in their education,” Jodice said.

Jodice, also the executive vice president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, believes the increased funding for private school vouchers “evens the playing field” for families who would otherwise would not consider private education.

“You’re going to create an environment where those tax dollars are going to be put in that kid’s proverbial backpack and head to the school that’s the right fit for them,” Jodice said.

But, school choice is just one of multiple other GOP-led education efforts the governor is calling out. Cooper argued that politics drive bills like the Parents Bill of Rights and others aimed at regulating how board of education members are elected.

“North Carolina schools need rigorous science, reading and math classes, not more politicians policing our children’s curriculum,” Cooper said.

Cooper is also calling for an 18 percent raise for teachers over two years, State Senate and House budgets allocate smaller raises.

“Our teachers deserve better pay and more respect,” Cooper said. “But the legislature wants to give them neither one.”

Republican leaders call the governor’s speech a political move.

“I regret that the governor is trying to play politics with our schools. I think particularly now, as we’re in the budget process, we’re having those serious discussions and I think it’s a little silly,” said Republican Rep. Jason Saine.