Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Teachers in red gather before North Carolina education rally

Teachers in red gather before North Carolina education rally

"For them to see their teachers and the people in their community out advocating for them and to make positive changes in their community, I don't think there's a better lesson that they could learn".

The teachers' group favors a proposal by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to raise salaries by stopping planned tax cuts on corporations and high-income households.

Although the Wednesday rally is the only action of its kind now on the slate for North Carolina's teachers, both Wood and Speight said that it's "just the beginning" of the backlash coming to lawmakers when the polls open in November.

Your biggest legislative support comes from the Republican State legislature.

North Carolina teachers want lawmakers to ensure "significant and livable raises for all educators", make schools safer, improve school buildings with a $1.9 billion Statewide School Construction Bond, and better students' health by adding more nurses, counselors, and expanding Medicaid. Teachers are photocopying assignments off the internet or from old workbooks because textbooks haven't been replenished in years, North Carolina Association of Educators President Mark Jewell said.

She said she spends nights and weekends looking for tools she needs to teach her students effectively, even at the cost of spending time with her own family.

Although teacher salaries have risen marginally over the past several years, North Carolina ranks thirty-ninth in teacher pay, according to the latest report from the National Education Association.

Gerry Broome  AP
Gerry Broome AP

Following in the footsteps of teachers in states like West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona and Colorado - all of which have recently experienced similar protests of post-recession cuts to education funding - North Carolina's teachers gathered outside of the General Assembly in Raleigh on Wednesday. Many wore a red shirt, some featuring the word "respect" inside an outline of the state.

North Carolina teachers earn about $50,000 on average, ranking 39th in the country past year, the National Education Association reported last month.

The one-day labor action caused numerous school districts across the state to cancel classes for more than 1 million students.

Thousands of teachers rallied the state capital seeking a political showdown over wages and funding for public school classrooms. "We need to get behind our students now or accept that the way things are is how they'll stay".

"Despite the lack of information in the media and the politically motivated misinformation coming from the local affiliate of the national teachers' union, the numbers speak for themselves - and we're glad to have the opportunity to share N.C.'s success story and set the record straight", the legislative leaders said in a joint statement. She says her classroom isn't connected to the school, and 25 years ago she was told it was supposed to be temporary.

"We have no intention of raising taxes", Berger said ahead of the march. "We're grossly underfunding our schools", he said.

Elmore says it may not be moving as fast as some would like but at least it is moving in the right direction; pointing out that he had firsthand knowledge of the pay struggles teachers have faced. They've had some salary increases in recent years, but when adjusted for inflation, they've lost 9.4% in pay since 2009. "This semester, one of my former students approached me and pulled out her AP history book smiling because my name was in the front cover". "I know certainly at my school, so many young new teachers are only lasting two, three, at the max four years before they go into a new career".

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