North Carolina teachers march for more education funding

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Teachers from across the state traveled to Raleigh on Wednesday, May 16 for a rally to demand better pay and more resources for public schools. Other Republicans, including House speaker Tim Moore, went with the well-worn approach of smearing the march as a "union" effort, even though there is no functioning teacher's union in our state.

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

"I come from NY and I've watched us in NY keep the density [of union members] so I've been excited my whole life about the potential of the labor movement", Weingarten said. 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". But, she said, "you've got to start somewhere".

The state becomes the latest to see teachers leave schools en masse to confront state lawmakers, hoping to reverse years of budget cuts.

"We're being asked every day to do way more with way less resources", Lauer said. Wake County Public School System - the largest in the state - is among those canceling classes.

"I support their cause".

"What has happened is that [the media] has had to report the individual stories of some of the thousands of people that have been in these capitals and that's why I call them human shields, because they have been a shield for kids", said Weingarten. But not during school hours.

"Its been a good day, I've enjoyed meeting people and talked with constituents", said Rep. Mitchell Setzer (R-Catawba).

Teachers also filled a plaza outside the legislative building amid chants of "Red for Ed" backed by school marching bands.

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

Tiffany Pfouts, an arts teacher at Mills Park Middle School in Cary, said simple needs such as building repairs at her school have been neglected. The list includes raising both teacher pay and per-pupil spending to the national average over the next four years.

Mark Jewell, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators, said up to 15,000 teachers are expected to march and rally at the state Capitol in Raleigh on Wednesday morning. One yelled: "Education is a Right: That is why we have to fight".

"We're grossly underfunding our schools", he said. Republican state legislators rejected the governor's plan, however, opting instead for their own plan, which had smaller raises for teachers.

Their demands are also political. The pay scales we changed to cut in half the length of time it takes for teachers to reach the top of the pay scale, from 32 years, to fifteen. Similar optics this year have helped lead to public support - and ultimately real legislative movement - in Oklahoma, West Virginia and Arizona. The legislature also phased out the state's estate tax. The focus will be on training members to run for office and rebuilding union structure that has been dilapidated in so many states. Corporate and personal income-tax rates will drop again in January. "Support those who truly support public education and vote that way".

After witnessing successful teacher walkouts and strikes across the nation this year, educators in North Carolina are poised for their moment in the spotlight.

"But you know, teacher strikes are illegal in North Carolina and in some respect what we're seeing looks like a work slowdown", state Senate leader Phil Berger said last week. Currently, the average teacher pay in just over $51,000 annually, plus available bonuses based on student performance and bonuses for STEM teachers, and approximately $16,000 in benefits.