“It’s like we all work at the same place”, said Kenely, who teaches fourth and fifth grade.
“We trust you teachers”, Cooper told the crowd in Bicentennial Plaza. “You can’t silence us all”. “We just want to find a sort of peaceful solution with this”.
Thousands of educators from across North Carolina rallied in Raleigh on May 16 to protest for improved teacher salaries and more education funding.
Jameel Williams was among the thousands from across the state to march from the NCAE headquarters to the North Carolina State Legislative Building.
Most carried signs expressing their hopes and desires.
Cheryl Burford is a music teacher at Clyde Erwin Elementary Magnet School of International Studies and Cultural Arts in Onslow County.
“This is nearly as big as my class size”, one sign read.
“We are on track to spend over $2 billion more on K-12 in 2018-19 than was spent in 2010-2011”, he said in a Twitter post.
Many bore the same message, like “Kids are worth more than 39th”. Even most Republicans support these ideas.
Democratic Governor Roy Cooper praised teachers for their roles with children and spoke about his budget plan, which includes ending tax cuts for businesses and wealthy families so the state would have more money for teachers’ salaries and school repairs. It’s about the children that we work with every day. “We haven’t had a raise, aren’t going to get a raise”.
“We have the power to mold the future”, he said.
“It is tax fairness for teacher pay”, Cooper said. She said lawmakers have let teachers down by failing to equip them properly to do their jobs. “They are not paying them enough to be able to maintain a decent way of life”. Robeson County was among more than three dozen school systems to close so teachers could attend the rally.
Teachers at the local rally said per-pupil spending was one of this biggest issues on their minds. Dare County Schools reported eight teachers took personal days to attend the rally and one teacher took off from Perquimans Country Schools.
“I truly believe the educators came today to get the respect they deserve”, Rep. Garland Pierce said. “We need more resources and we need more money”. It’s not just about salary. “People aren’t getting their needs met when they’re small”.
Teachers also are known for apples, and the Triangle might soon be as well.
The rally went on all day and the teachers say whether here or in Raleigh, teachers stand together. “That’s what is important”. “I know several teachers (like myself) that hold politicians accountable on their social media platforms, fighting their fuzzy math with facts”. Most teachers quieted down when asked, but a woman who yelled, “Education is a Right: That is why we have to fight”, was among four escorted from the Senate gallery. “The recession hit our state hard”. Over the same period, spending on public schools here has dropped by 8%.
Dame brought her kids to the protest to show them how teachers are raising an issue on their behalf.
“I want to get my master’s in education so I can better provide for my students, even though there’s no master’s pay anymore”, Darwish said. “Veteran teachers are pretty much falling through the cracks”. He previously worked as a substitute teacher in special needs classrooms before coming to Warren County, which he said is not too different from where he grew up.
“They need to start investing in the public school classroom instead of corporate boardrooms”.
Pennington’s hope is that legislators will look at providing a living wage for teachers. They’ve had some salary increases in recent years, but when adjusted for inflation, they’ve lost 9.4% in pay since 2009. “I said this is too many students”. But others, like “Fair pay now”, took a more stern approach. She often works 60-hour weeks when planning and grading is factored in, and doesn’t feel the compensation reflects that, she said.