A sea of red swept across the streets of Raleigh this morning as thousands of teachers from across the state marched to advocate for pay raises along with more supplies and resources for public schools. According to the North Carolina Association of Educators, which coordinated the march, there were upward of twenty thousand people in attendance.
An energetic and vocal crowd gathered along South Street near the
Rally-goers in their red shirts streamed into the legislative building, where the General Assembly began its short session today, filling chamber galleries and the lobby. As legislators convened, the crowd could be heard chanting, "Remember, remember, we vote in November."
"We would just like to collectively recognize and thank all the teachers from around the state who traveled to be with us,” Moore said.
Republican lawmakers have pushed back against teachers' calls for more school funding, citing teacher pay raises approved in previous years that education advocates say are insufficient. Educators planned to schedule meetings with their representatives after the morning session.
Protesters say that as class sizes rise while materials for students across the state become more limited, their primary concern is ensuring that students have all of the resources they need to be successful. Rachel Polmanteer, an eighth-grade science teacher at Wake Forest Middle School, said she must work a second job to earn money for her students’ lab assignments and other hands-on activities.
“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. “It’s very hard. I write grants all the time. That’s how my students are able to do [projects]. I fund a lot of the projects out of my own pocket.”
Although teacher salaries have risen marginally over the past several years, North Carolina ranks thirty-ninth in teacher pay, according to the latest report from the National Education Association. The
Corey Mitchell, a teacher of over twenty years at Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte, fears that budget cuts and staffing limitations have led to a public school system that is ultimately unsustainable.
“The mantra became, again and again, ‘Do more with less.’ And the problem has become at this point that there’s not much less to do more with,” Mitchell says. “I know certainly at my school, so many young new teachers are only lasting two, three, at the max four years before they go into a new career.”
Advocates at the
#Durham teacher LouAnn Bryan, center, had to give insulin shots to four diabetic students in her class every day last year because her school didn't have a nurse. "I never thought I would be doing that. I never thought I'd be the psychologist on call." #May16 #Red4Ed pic.twitter.com/U8woJDv8fY— Indy Week (@indyweek) May 16, 2018