Published: Thu, May 17, 2018

North Carolina teachers march for more education funding

North Carolina teachers march for more education funding

Most of the state's public school students are expected to be out of class Wednesday.

Wednesday's march and rally follows similar teacher protests in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Arizona. The state recently redrew legislative districts, meaning some that were safely in the hands of Republicans are competitive.

NOTE:Thousands of North Carolina teachers are protesting in Raleigh today for higher pay and more state funding for education.

The 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. They've had some salary increases in recent years, but when adjusted for inflation, they've lost 9.4% in pay since 2009.

"I hope (lawmakers) take away the understanding that students deserve more, and teachers can't give more unless we're paid adequately", said Godwin, a kindergarten teacher in coastal Onslow County. We love children and feel that's what we're called to do. "I mean we're treated like a stepchild and we are the professionals that make the professionals".

While teacher pay is only a portion of the rally's goal, it is worth noting that teacher pay remains at 37 in the country, with teachers no longer being rewarded with tenure or raises for advanced degrees. Whitelock, a Pittsburgh native who always wanted to become a teacher, said that some of her students don't have anyone else to advocate for them.

Hundreds of teachers in red T-shirts filled a spectators gallery and chanted "remember, remember, we vote in November" as the Republican-controlled General Assembly started its session. This is not because she doesn't support the cause. "But I still find myself buying books for our reading programs and using my own money". But not during school hours.

"We're grossly underfunding our schools", he said. "How am I going to respect teachers who shut down the school for a day?" While there, he plans to meet with Superintendent Meghan Doyle and Tabari Wallace, the newly named 2018 North Carolina Principal of the Year.

Thousands of teachers have gathered in front of the North Carolina Legislative Building where the route of their march ends. One state representative, Mark Brody of Union County, posted on Facebook last week that this would be a gathering of "Teacher Union thugs [who] want to control the education process!"

"Education is a profession that needs to be respected and for so long we haven't been respected", Powell said.

The state's main teacher advocacy group, the North Carolina Association of Educators, demands that legislators increase per-pupil spending to the national average in four years, increase school construction for a growing state, and approve a multiyear pay raise for teachers and school support staff that would raise incomes to the national average.

Their demands are also political.

Stay with Spectrum News for continued live team coverage. Educators in several states have walked out of their classrooms over the last few months as a form of protest. "And the folks that are fighting really deeply believe that public education is a cornerstone of our democracy, and we're in danger of losing it". He says he thinks teachers know the legislature is on the right track with five years of salary raises and merit-based bonuses. Salary increases are needed, she said, in part to make up for freezes during the recession and mitigate what teachers spend on classroom supplies.

"Over 44,000 teachers in North Carolina _ half the state's workforce _ are receiving at least a $10,000 raise since 2014 under the General Assembly's budgets", added Joseph Kyzer, a spokesman for House Speaker Tim Moore. For the past 5 years, educators like him have been painstakingly organizing North Carolina, and now their efforts are bearing fruit.

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