SNOW HILL, N.C. (WNCT) – Governor Roy Cooper visited several schools on Thursday as part of his efforts to push for public education protection.

In addition to visiting New Hanover County, another of those schools he visited was Greene Central High School in Snow Hill. He was also joined by Congressman Don Davis.

This comes after last week’s announcement where Cooper declared a state of emergency for public education.

“You’ve heard that I’ve declared a state of emergency for public education in North Carolina,” Cooper said. “We’re going to be making some decisions within the next three weeks that are going to determine the future of public education.”

Cooper said the state needed to invest in both schools and teachers.

“Now, we have a situation where we have over 5,000 teacher vacancies in our state. That means tens of thousands of our students do not have a qualified teacher, and I know it is a challenge here in Greene County to make sure you are staffed up,” Cooper said.

To invest, Cooper said he suggests an increase for education in the state budget.

“That is why I have proposed an 18% teacher raise along with restoring Master’s pay along with bonuses in order to attract and retain the very best teachers in our state,” Cooper said.

Cooper also spoke against proposed private voucher plans.

“The private school voucher plan shows there’s going to be a two percent loss to Greene County Public Schools as a result of that,” Cooper said. “In fact, a millionaire who has a child at a private academy is going to get thousands of dollars to keep that child in a private academy when education will be hurt.”

Budget talks between the NC House and NC Senate are to begin soon, Cooper said, determining the fate of public education in North Carolina.

“It’s one of the reasons why I’m going across the state, so that parents, businesses, teachers, principals, superintendents can contact their legislators and let them know we need to invest in public education,” Cooper said. “Eight out of 10 of our children go to public schools. People support the public schools, and that’s why we need to make sure that we support and show the love for our schools.”