Thousands of North Carolina teachers set to rally over pay

Teachers walk in together as they arrive for work at San Marcos Elementary School Friday

Teachers walk in together as they arrive for work at San Marcos Elementary School Friday

Educators and their supporters from Vance, Granville and Warren counties were among thousands who participated in Wednesday's March for Students and Rally for Respect in Raleigh, demanding better pay and more funding for public schools.

"It's historic to me", Jones said.

N.C. Association of Educators leaders said they sent emails to legislators to encourage them to attend the rally, if for no other reason than the opportunity to speak to constituents in designated areas identified by county. Boraks also said he saw signs reading, "Teacher pay: Grade F", and "I just want to make a living".

"Today was one of the most incredible experiences", stated Kathryn Brooks, a teacher in Wake County".

"We trust you teachers", Cooper told the crowd in Bicentennial Plaza.

"I think it's important that we all rally together", Wrightsboro Elementary School teacher Brandi Laney said.

Trujillo said the support for the rally was awesome, even among non-teachers and from businesses along the march.

Most carried signs expressing their hopes and desires.

"I think North Carolina's students, like all students in America, deserve an equitable education regardless of their ZIP Code", he said.

"We have a situation", said another.

"I teach an after-school STEM class in robotic and 3D printing", Trujillo said. Shanna Darwish ('98) is an NC State alum who teaches at Al-Iman School, a private school in Raleigh.




Wood echoed the sentiment and said that in his district, students had gone so far as to organize voter registration rallies for seniors turning 18 this year so that they could help in the efforts to vote out incumbent politicians who vote against teachers' interests. NCAE president Mark Jewell introduced Cooper as a "true friend and champion of public education", and called on those present to make sure he had "some friends" elected in the state legislature in November 2018. The gathering in uptown was a way for those teachers to still have their voices heard, she said.

Research done by Eleanor Blair, an Associate Professor at Western Carolina University shows, 71 percent of teachers get second jobs, just to pay the bills.

The demands of their main advocacy group, the North Carolina Association of Educators, include raising per-pupil spending and pay for teachers and support staff to the national average, and increasing school construction to match the state's population growth.

Using the Twitter hashtag #ItsPersonal, the protest marked the sixth state to go on strike since West Virginia teachers successfully struck in March, highlighting low salaries and poorly funded public schools.

In Arizona, where the recent #RedForEd walkout led to a 20 percent teacher pay increase over three years and $400 million in additional school funding, organizers called for a November ballot initiative that would increase income taxes on wealthy state residents to bring in some $690 million in annual revenue for teacher salaries and school operations. They said Republican leaders should be more concerned about doing more, given that North Carolina remains ranked in the low 30s for teacher pay nationwide.

State Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, both Republicans, have made clear they have no plans to funnel more money to classrooms by postponing January's planned tax cuts, as Cooper has proposed.

Some were comical, saying "It's so bad, even introverts are here" and "My BRA provides more SUPPORT than you!"

The #RallyForRespect goes beyond the scope of pay raises.

"We need to have sufficient resources for these babies".

But Rachel Holdridge, a special education teacher at Wilmington's Alderman Elementary School, said lawmakers have let teachers down by failing to equip them properly to do their jobs.

There were 14 House and seven Senate bills introduced Wednesday, majority associated with education. "You can't check out books", she said.

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