Monday, 19 November, 2018

NC Teachers March On Raleigh In Push For More Funding

Sue Ogrocki  AP FILE Sue Ogrocki AP FILE
Ebony Burgess | 17 May, 2018, 06:53

The end game from the teachers' perspective, Jewell says, is to "change the direction of public education policy" for years to come at the ballot box.

This afternoon, protesters will assemble on Bicentennial Plaza for the Rally for Respect, where a lineup of education leaders and other guests will offer their perspective on the state of education in North Carolina.

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

Organizers expected up to 20,000 teachers and supporters to press the Republican-dominated legislature for more spending as the legislative session started.

Despite a milder official designation, however, John Wood - a teacher at Research Triangle High School, a public charter school near Durham - said that teachers had turned out en masse as a direct challenge to politicians who have consistently pursued party interests over their demands.

"According to the NEA, North Carolina Ranked #2 in the United States for fastest rising teacher pay in 2017", Republican Senator Phil Berger, president pro tempore, said in a comment on Twitter posted during the march. One said, "Teacher (noun): an endangered species", while another simply demanded the state "Make Education Great Again".

"I believe they came here, yes with an emphasis on teacher pay, but also to point out the broader perspective of their educational and economic roles in our society".

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.

According to data on the National Education Association website, for 2016-2017 the national average starting teacher salary was $38,617.

Matt York  AP
Matt York AP

Thousands of teachers rallied the state capital seeking a political showdown over wages and funding for public school classrooms.

We were told the event was not just about money.

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.

The 38-year-old said her concerns go beyond teacher pay to basic school needs that go unfunded.

Teachers in Kentucky and Colorado have also staged walkouts and sickouts, calling for raises and protesting changes in their pension plan.

"We support offering different learning environments in hope of determining which is the best option for every child", she said. She said she has a personal stake in the success of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools since three grandchildren will be entering the system over the next three years. 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, but that still represents a 9.4 percent slide in real income since 2009 due to inflation, the NEA said. "They deserve professionally paid educators", the organization said in a statement. And planned raises for educators this year will make five in a row since state finances rebounded from the shock of a recession a few years ago, legislators said.

"We have no intention of raising taxes", Berger said ahead of the march.

"There is usually not this much excitement during the short session, but its good to see this many folks turning out to support education which is critical to our state and critical to our workforce development", said Sec.

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