Thousands of teachers rally in Raleigh

Lucy Bush
May 17, 2018

Tracy Brumble, a teacher at Milbrook Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh, was with about a dozen fellow teachers at the school waiting for a bus to carry them to the march's starting point. "As we're growing, the funds are not keeping up with the growth. When you effect us, it effects the children".

Since 2009, real wages for teachers have fallen by 9.4% in North Carolina.

Concord Football Coach Marty Paxton and basketball coach Angela Morton, along with other teachers attended the rally.

Corey Mitchell, a teacher of over twenty years at Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte, fears that budget cuts and staffing limitations have led to a public school system that is ultimately unsustainable.

North Carolina's education funding and teacher salaries are much-debated topics each year, especially how they compare with other states. She says she drives for Uber to make ends meet despite working in education for 22 years. The resulting pressure led legislators in each state to improve pay, benefits or overall school funding.

"This plan must include restoration of compensation for advanced degrees and longevity", the state teachers group said.

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The teachers union, the North Carolina Association of Educators, is calling for per-student spending and teacher pay to be raised to at least the national average, and it wants lawmakers to restore funding for public schools to pre-recession levels. "I think the people of North Carolina don't fully support that sort of action". Instead, teacher pay is just one of the many fundamentals to which educators hope to bring awareness.

At the time, almost a dozen school districts had announced they were closing due to the teacher rally, and Johnson said he hoped no others would follow.

"That just tells me all I need to know", Butler said.

But Republican legislative leaders have said this year's planned salary increase of 6 percent would mark the fifth consecutive annual increase. Teachers here are capitalizing on it. Republicans are clearly wary of it, especially in a year where progressives have shown across the country that they're willing to voice their unhappiness with their votes. The lawmakers spent the day in session, committees and meeting with the teacher delegations from their districts.

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

Simmons said that if she gets the chance to speak to state legislators today, she'll tell them how hard teachers work.

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With messages such as "Respect Public Education" on their shirts and signs, as many as 15,000 teachers from around the state participated in the rally.

According to the National Education Association, North Carolina teachers ranked 39th in average teacher pay previous year, with an average salary of $49,970.

The National Education Association estimates that North Carolina's average teacher salary is $9,622 below the national average and per-pupil spending is $2,406 below the national average. The "purple" state briefly swung blue for Barack Obama in 2008, but soon after, Republicans swept the state legislature and later solidified their supermajority. Larry Hall, head of the N.C. Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and former leader of the Democratic caucus in the House. Cooper asked the crowd. "We stop the tax cuts that are planned". Cook says he thinks the teachers are caught up in a national movement after demonstrations in West Virginia, Arizona and elsewhere.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, North Carolina joins seven other states that have recently enacted income tax cuts, costing tens or hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue every year.

Legislators have already agreed to a $23.9 billion spending target even before the short session got underway. They're dismissive of proposals that don't fit their agenda.

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