Local educators join thousands across state in Raleigh march

Credit KSDK

Credit KSDK

In Arizona, where the recent #RedForEd walkout led to a 20 percent teacher pay increase over three years and $400 million in additional school funding, organizers called for a November ballot initiative that would increase income taxes on wealthy state residents to bring in some $690 million in annual revenue for teacher salaries and school operations.

The teachers' group favors a proposal by Cooper to raise salaries by stopping planned tax cuts on corporations and high-income households. "So I was really excited when I found out that people were meeting here today so we could still have our voices heard", Pender Early College High School teacher Justine Chew said.

The North Carolina educators say their top goal is to get legislators to increase annual per-pupil funding, which is now about $9,329, according to a 2018 report by the National Education Association. North Carolina also ranked 39th in terms of per-student spending, where students are allocated $2,313 less than the national average, which was $11,787 past year.

The same report says North Carolina also ranks 39th in per-student spending - about $2,313 less per student than the national average of $11,642.

Teachers and reporters posted photos, videos, and updates from Raleigh with the hashtags #RedforEd, #RedforEdNC, and #NCTeacherRally.

According to data on the National Education Association website, for 2016-2017 the national average starting teacher salary was $38,617. Wake County Public School System - the largest in the state - is among those canceling classes.

Numerous lawmakers wore red in honor of the teacher rally, and gave the teachers in the gallery a standing ovation for their service.

"It's hard to teach when we don't have the supplies that we need, when we don't have the curriculum in place in time", Ann Simmons, an elementary school teacher in Raleigh, told WTVD-TV.

Wood echoed the sentiment and said that in his district, students had gone so far as to organize voter registration rallies for seniors turning 18 this year so that they could help in the efforts to vote out incumbent politicians who vote against teachers' interests.

Teachers also are known for apples, and the Triangle might soon be as well.

"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. "We're grossly underfunding our schools", he said.

"How many North Carolinians out there who aren't a teacher, who aren't working for government, are going to get a 6.2 percent pay raise this year?" Their pay increased by 4.2 percent over the previous year - the second-biggest increase in the country - and was estimated to rise an average 1.8 percent this year, but that still represents a 9.4 percent slide in real income since 2009 due to inflation, the NEA said.

But with the Great Recession in the past and the state's financial stability restored, teachers say it's time to catch up on deferred school spending.

Republican legislators have focused on increasing pay based on merit, rather than treating all teachers as if they were equally productive, he said. "It's the children, and we have to have a heart for our children", he said.

"There is usually not this much excitement during the short session, but its good to see this many folks turning out to support education which is critical to our state and critical to our workforce development", said Sec.

"They need to start investing in the public school classroom instead of corporate boardrooms".

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