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17 May 2018, 12:39 | Damon Campbell
Demanding respect, thousands of teachers and students swarm North Carolina capital
According to the president of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators, seven buses were paid for by a private donation and through CMAE budget.
Durham Public Schools-like more than thirty school districts across the state, including the Wake County Public School System, Orange County Schools, and Carrboro Chapel Hill City Schools-were closing on May 16, the first day of the General Assembly's short session. Since February, strikes, walkouts and protest rallies have swept through West Virginia, Arizona, Kentucky, Colorado and Oklahoma - pushing legislators in each state to improve pay, benefits or overall school funding. "But the state is back on track today with the fastest rising teacher pay in the country under Republican leadership".
The ultimate goal, according to the North Carolina Association of Educators, is to elect more pro-public education leaders in North Carolina. But the union points out that that still represents a 9.4 percent slide in real income since 2009 due to inflation. "These specific public education priorities will give every student an opportunity to succeed and help recruit and retain educators as we face a critical shortage in our classrooms and school buildings". We love children and feel that's what we're called to do. But, as it turns out, she has to get a summer job, and Wednesday was the only day she could find time for an interview. The state has given raises but has cut pay for longtime teachers and for teachers who receive master's degrees. 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.
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.
These facts don't encompass the often-overlooked topics, such as constructing new school buildings and updating existing facilities to accommodate mandated class-size restrictions coming in the next few years.
"I support their cause". "I think they're entitled to that". But not during school hours. "There's a vision for increasing the amount of money we spend on public schools but with very little sense on how that money would be used".
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.
Thousands of teachers have gathered in front of the North Carolina Legislative Building where the route of their march ends.
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"That's exactly the plight of public education right now".
"Education is a profession that needs to be respected and for so long we haven't been respected", Powell said.
Their demands are also political. 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.
Jewell said teachers don't really expect the current leadership to meet all their demands, which is why they are also urging voters to not re-elect them.
On Tuesday night, there were still a number of teachers who were on a waiting list to join the group in their journey to Raleigh.
As many as 15,000 educators from around the state were expected to participate.
Carolynn Phillips, a middle school arts teacher from coastal Brunswick County who was named the county's Teacher of the Year for 2018, called the protest a cry for respect from teachers whose pay ranks toward the bottom of US states. For the past 5 years, educators like him have been painstakingly organizing North Carolina, and now their efforts are bearing fruit.
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