North Carolina teachers march for more education funding

Thursday, 17 May, 2018

Thousands are downtown wearing red in an effort to get lawmakers to hear their voices.

Thousands of North Carolina educators are marching together in Raleigh to rally for better pay, improved working conditions, and better school funding.

Durham and Chapel Hill-Carrboro school districts also told students not to report to school Wednesday because too many teachers would be absent, the Charlotte Observer reports. Your biggest legislative support comes from the Republican State legislature.

"According to the NEA, North Carolina Ranked #2 in the U.S. for fastest rising teacher pay in 2017", Republican Senator Phil Berger, president pro tempore, said in a comment on Twitter posted during the march. But that still represents a 9.4 percent slide in real income since 2009 due to inflation, the union said.

Rachel Holdridge, a special education teacher at Wilmington's Alderman Elementary School with 22 years' experience, said she drives for Uber to make ends meet. "If I've learned anything, teachers don't teach for incomes, teachers teach for outcomes". "I mean we're treated like a stepchild and we are the professionals that make the professionals".

"Some teachers just feel that the time has come".

"We have no intention of raising taxes", Berger said before the march, complaining that "a million kids are not going to be in school (Wednesday) because a political organization wants to have folks come" to the legislature.

"Last night was similar to a young child on Christmas Eve", said Pender County teacher Leann Hall. Wake County Public School System - the largest in the state - is among those canceling classes.

Demanding respect, thousands of teachers and students swarm North Carolina capital
Thousands of teachers rally in Raleigh

"I support their cause". "I think they're entitled to that". But not during school hours. For the past 11 years, she's worked as an elementary school music teacher in Fayetteville, a city in the southeastern part of the state near Fort Bragg.

With the large number of teacher absences Wednesday, 12 school districts in the WBTV viewing area designated May 16 an optional teacher workday.

Protesters say that as class sizes rise while materials for students across the state become more limited, their primary concern is ensuring that students have all of the resources they need to be successful. Along the route, onlookers and business owners gawked at the vast size of the crowd, and news helicopters hummed overhead to capture one of the largest education rallies in the state's history.

"We're grossly underfunding our schools", he said. While legislative leaders continue to tout plans that don't meaningfully move the needle, Governor Cooper stands with North Carolina's teachers and has released a plan to invest in our public schools and get teacher pay to the national average.

Their demands are also political.

The American Federation of Teachers plans to hold a massive convention with over 3,000 teachers starting on 13 July. Just outside the galleries, hundreds more teachers in the building chanted "Remember, remember, we vote in November". The legislature also phased out the state's estate tax. Around 15,000 teachers were expected to participate in the march. Corporate and personal income-tax rates will drop again in January.

Meanwhile, Republican leaders in the General Assembly say education funding and teacher salaries are on the right track and point out that teachers will get their fifth consecutive pay raise in the coming budget.

North Carolina state representative Mark Brody (R) posted on Facebook that teachers "choose to inconvenience" parents by rallying. While teacher pay is rising in the state, stats published last week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that North Carolina is [one of the three worst states for teacher pay] (https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2018/a-look-at-teacher-pay-across-the-united-states-in-2017.htm), not far ahead of Oklahoma.