RALLY IN RALEIGH: Teachers seeking more resources march on state Capitol

17 May, 2018, 06:51 | Author: Myra Gill
  • Demanding respect, thousands of teachers and students swarm North Carolina capital

Echoing the frustration of teachers who have walked out in other states, the group has also called for a moratorium on new corporate tax cuts until teachers are earning the national average.

Tax cuts passed since 2013 have cost the state $3.5 billion in lost annual revenue a year, according to the North Carolina Justice Center, a progressive research and advocacy organization.

According to the National Education Association, North Carolina ranks 39th among the 50 states for average teacher salary, well behind the US average of $58,353 in 2016. Hoping to negotiate through the summer, teachers promise to delay the start of the next school year if a compromise isn't reached.

The North Carolina educators say their top goal is to get legislators to increase annual per-pupil funding, which is now about $9,329, according to a 2018 report by the National Education Association.

"You can't have a strong economy and attract employers with good-paying jobs without a well-educated workforce continuously coming from a pipeline of our students", Davis said.

The teachers demonstrating on Wednesday want to boost teacher pay and per-pupil funding to national levels within the next four years.

While thousands of teachers and educators convened at the state Legislature in Raleigh on Wednesday, Simmons joined educators in the Charlotte region who stood in solidarity by having a demonstration of their own. North Carolina state representative Mark Brody (R) posted on Facebook that teachers "choose to inconvenience" parents by rallying.

House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, touted the website Tuesday, as well as the totality of average teacher pay rising 19 percent, or by $8,600, since 2014. With more than three dozen school districts represented at this march, more than a million students are out of class today.

Demanding respect, thousands of teachers and students swarm North Carolina capital
North Carolina teachers converge on state capitol demanding pay raise, better resources

Numerous lawmakers wore red in honor of the teacher rally, and gave the teachers in the gallery a standing ovation for their service. "We need to get behind our students now or accept that the way things are is how they'll stay". "We're grossly underfunding our schools", he said.

However, Conrad stressed that Republican legislators are not going to "shut down charter schools and do away with the opportunity scholarships" that pay a portion of the tuition for low-income students to attend a charter, religious or private school.

Luciano knew that at least eight of his teachers went to Raleigh to fight for more resources for their classrooms. They've had some salary increases in recent years, but when adjusted for inflation, they've lost 9.4% in pay since 2009.

"How many North Carolinians out there who aren't a teacher, who aren't working for government, are going to get a 6.2 percent pay raise this year?" Their pay increased by 4.2 percent over the previous year - the second-biggest increase in the country - and was estimated to rise an average 1.8 percent this year, the NEA said. That increase will bring the average teacher pay to more than $53,000, not accounting for local supplements, benefits or bonuses, he said.

"All of this will be fruitless unless we take this energy and passion to the ballot box and change those who are making the policy", Jewell said.

Myers said he thinks schools need emphasis for more nurses, addressing special education needs, or helping students with anxiety attacks related to standardized testing.

Amy Buchen, a first-grade educator at Brassfield Elementary School in Raleigh, says she was amazed by the enormous community that formed in the wake of this morning's protests.


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