Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Teachers demand higher pay, more school funding

Teachers demand higher pay, more school funding

We have never see each other, but we all have the same voice. "I mean we're treated like a stepchild and we are the professionals that make the professionals".

Thousands of North Carolina teachers swarmed the state legislature on Wednesday to call for pay raises and more spending on schools, making the state the country's sixth to be roiled by educators demanding better funding. Teachers believe North Carolina can do better. The signs couldn't have told our story more beautifully.

"This is nearly as big as my class size", one sign read.

Warren said he saw Democratic Reps.

Many bore the same message, like "Kids are worth more than 39th". Even most Republicans support these ideas.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has proposed boosting teacher pay 8 percent and up to 14.8 percent for educators with at least 25 years of experience.

"We are stepping up and standing up for our kids", one teacher told NBC Charlotte.

The #RallyForRespect goes beyond the scope of pay raises. "They are not paying them enough to be able to maintain a decent way of life".

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Wednesday's march in North Carolina prompted more than three-dozen school districts that educate more than two-thirds of the state's 1.5 million public school students to cancel class. But a poll released Tuesday by the left-leaning Progress NC says that almost 80 percent think N.C. teacher pay is too low and almost 90 percent want N.C. teacher pay raised to the national average.

One teacher says this is just the first of many statements educators plan to make in Raleigh.

Jewell said teachers will all be back to work tomorrow and they'll also be at the polls in November. "We need more resources and we need more money". That's what brings us here. "People aren't getting their needs met when they're small".

Letchworth said that being a math teacher, she knows that there is power in numbers.

"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. "It's really putting the faces to the issues". The national average public school teacher salary was $58,353.

Pennington has worked at Toisnot Middle School and Jones Elementary School and is the 2011 WCS Teacher of the Year and the 2012 North Central Region Teacher of the Year. 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. "Veteran teachers are pretty much falling through the cracks". "We haven't purchased new textbooks in over a decade since the recession".

"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.

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He sympathizes with the educators' concerns and supports them, Pierce said. "Their base pay coming out of college is so low that after taxes and benefits, they can't even afford to even pay rent or their student loans, so they leave". They've had some salary increases in recent years, but when adjusted for inflation, they've lost 9.4% in pay since 2009. "You can't check out books", she said.

"It's awesome. It's wonderful", Kenely said. "He stopped us and talked to us".

"We have other districts and states recruiting NC teachers, so we can't compete", Powell said.

"Each county feels the same way", Barnes said.

Barnes said teacher pay is below the cost of living in North Carolina. "That's taking away from our households for our families", Barnes said.

Now Cooper and legislators who opened their annual work session on Wednesday are waiting to see what happens after an estimated 19,000 people marched through the capital city, according to the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, which drew from aerial photos.

"It's historic to me", Jones said.

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