Friday, 19 October, 2018

North Carolina teachers march for more education funding

Third grade teachers Brittney Dennis left and Sabrina Peacock Third grade teachers Brittney Dennis left and Sabrina Peacock. Liz Schlemmer WUNC
Jay Anderson | 17 May, 2018, 02:04

He set up a camera along the route near the Old Capitol to make a time lapse photo of the march. As some look to North Carolina as a model state, educators' frustrations are symptomatic of tax policy that favors the top 1% over the average taxpayer.

Teachers in Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and West Virginia have all led demonstrations since the beginning of 2018.

There are now 37 school districts that have closed to allow teachers the opportunity to attend the rally, which makes the point that this is more a movement than a protest.

As many as 15,000 teachers from across North Carolina are expected to march, rally and meet with lawmakers Wednesday to ask for more education funding, including higher teacher salaries.

"We acknowledge the district's closing may create a hardship for some", Wooten said.

"We call this life". I don't see how anyone could say that's not a major step.

Dennis: And it's now launched into a really big day of advocacy, which I'm really excited about.

For Mahra Whitelock, a first-grade teacher at Mineral Springs Elementary in the former tobacco town of Winston-Salem, it's not about her pay.

"This is not just about teachers".

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




Lee Irvin of Cary said he's sympathetic to the teachers' demands, if not their method, which is forcing the software engineer and his wife to work from home on Wednesday. Roughly a million students were out of school as a result, according to the News & Observer, a Raleigh-based paper. "I do not support the movement especially on the backs of our students". They're planning to go to the May 16 protest in Raleigh together, along with at least 400 other teachers in the county and numerous parents and community supporters. But not during school hours. "Eighty-five dollars a day equates to 17 dollars an hour with the summer off and state benefits", he said.

Irvin said he thinks his children are receiving a lackluster education.

Camden County Schools Superintendent Joe Ferrell likewise said Camden has only one teacher who's requested any type of leave on Wednesday. They also spend their money in their classrooms purchasing supplies the district can not fund.

The same report says North Carolina also ranks 39th in per-student spending - about $2,313 less per student than the national average of $11,642. She said lawmakers and state government have let teachers down by failing to equip them properly to do their job. "We're grossly underfunding our schools", he said.

Legislators said they have given teachers a pay increase every year since 2015, but here in North Carolina salaries are still less than the national average.

Their demands are also political. Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has called for an 8 percent raise, with additional raises for teachers with more than 25 years of experience.

An energetic and vocal crowd gathered along South Street near the NCAE headquarters and marched through downtown toward the state legislative building. Corporate and personal income-tax rates will drop again in January.

Although North Carolina educators have had some salary increases in recent last years, their wages haven't kept up with inflation: teachers' real wages have decreased by 9.4 percent since 2009 when inflation is taken into account.

"We are aware of a few instances where teachers plan to attend, and they have shared their plans with their principal", Sawyer said.

"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 on Twitter during the march. At the time, North Carolina was also grappling with most severe recession since the Great Depression.

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