Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

North Carolina Teachers Protest Education Funding

North Carolina Teachers Protest Education Funding

On May 16, about 15,000 teachers are taking a personal day to lobby their state legislature, effectively shutting down schools across North Carolina.

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

As Wednesday's march approaches, North Carolina Republicans have been emphasizing raises approved by state lawmakers in recent years, raises that lifted the state from near the bottom of the nation in teacher pay to 39th this year.

Durham County was the first to close schools and allow teachers to attend the rally after pressure from the Durham Association of Educators.

"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. Besides aged computer equipment at school, none of them have brought home a textbook all year, with teachers instead handing out worksheets to glue into their notebooks.

The state's most powerful politician said legislators will listen to protesting teachers as they do any constituent.

Lee Irvin of Cary said he's sympathetic to the teachers' demands, if not their method, which is forcing the software engineer and his wife to work from home on Wednesday. The teachers have taken cues from the West Virginia, Oklahoma and Arizona strikes. 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. "We're grossly underfunding our schools", he said. Since then, the number of school systems closing has ballooned to 42.

In an apparent pre-emptive strike, House Speaker Tim Moore said budget leaders in the House and Senate on Tuesday officially committed to at least a 6.2% increase in teacher salaries for the upcoming fiscal year.

Over 44,000 N.C. teachers - nearly half the state's educators - have received at least a $10,000 raise since 2014. They're planning to go to the May 16 protest in Raleigh together, along with at least 400 other teachers in the county and numerous parents and community supporters. Teachers have also slammed lawmakers for bypassing raises for the state's most experienced educators.

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

Meanwhile, North Carolina's overall per-pupil funding-about $9,500 per student-also lags the national average of about $12,000.

The March for Students is expected to be held at 10 a.m. and the Rally for Respect will begin around 3:30 p.m. Their late-afternoon rally is scheduled in front of the Legislative Building.

Like this: