Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

'We vote!' North Carolina teachers demand raise in walkout

'We vote!' North Carolina teachers demand raise in walkout

Similar walkouts and protests have prompted change in other states.

In addition, teachers are calling for the creation of a multiyear pay plan for teachers, administrators and other school personnel that would raise incomes to the national average.

Tax cuts passed since 2013 have cost the state $3.5 billion in lost annual revenue a year, according to the North Carolina Justice Center, a progressive research and advocacy organization.

The North Carolina Association of Educators, the group coordinating the protest, said teachers were marching because the state has cut taxes while public school per-student spending and teacher salaries lag national averages.

According to the National Education Association, North Carolina ranks 39th in public school teacher pay in the U.S. Teachers received a 4.2 percent pay bump previous year, but they still earn less than what they were making a decade ago when adjusted for inflation.

"The veteran teachers have been left out". The Republican-led legislature should expand Medicaid coverage so students and their families stay healthy, and cancel corporate tax cuts until school spending is increased, Jewell said.

Thousands of North Carolina teachers poured into downtown Raleigh and marched to the state's General Assembly on Wednesday morning in the latest in a series of red-state public school teacher uprisings across the country. The average salary for teachers in the state is $49,970, or about $9,000 below the national average, Jewell said.

More than three dozen school districts, including the 10 largest in the state, have made a decision to close classrooms as a result.

Conrad expressed disappointment that she had heard from just three teacher constituents by email about wanting to meet with her Wednesday, as well as few walk-in visitors, even though the main teacher rally was occurring just yards outside her office. "We are - in some cases - the only positive encounters for these kids, and we have to spend money out of our pockets to do so".

But not all of them could make it.

"Especially as a science teacher, we're looking at books that are fourteen years old, and they keep telling us, 'Oh, well you can go digital.' Well, you can't go digital when you're looking at a four-student-to-one-computer ratio", she says.

But Rachel Holdridge, a special education teacher at Wilmington's Alderman Elementary School, said lawmakers have let teachers down by failing to equip them properly to do their jobs.

"We are now about $2,400 below the national average in how we fund our public school children", Jewell said at a news conference in Raleigh earlier this week.

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 website also stipulates five demands from elected leaders, including an increase in per-pupil spending, a "multi-year professional pay plan" for teachers, an increased number of mental and physical health professionals in schools, and moderated class sizes. "But how do we pay for it?" said Cooper in a speech to the crowd. They deserve professionally paid educators. Adjusted for inflation, state funding for North Carolina schools has fallen almost 8 percent since the recession hit.

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. She said simple capital needs in her school, such as building repairs, have been neglected.

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