May 23, 2018

North Carolina teachers staging rallies to protest low pay

17 May 2018, 01:34 | Leigh Flowers

In North Carolina, Teacher Protest Exposes Rural-Urban Divide

Demanding respect, thousands of teachers and students swarm North Carolina capital

But that doesn't mean the fight will end Wednesday.

In the post, Nick Cols said he has been teaching for 10 years and loves his job but is struggling because he only makes about $1,715 each month.

"After taking over from Democratic leadership that furloughed teachers and froze their salaries, Republicans in the General Assembly made a promise to dramatically raise teacher pay in North Carolina - and we've kept our promise", the statement said.

"We wanted to be part of this movement that brought this wave that was started in West Virginia", said Lynn Wiscarver, an English teacher at Davie County High School and the vice president of the Davie County Association of Educators.

The system recognized that some routines will be disrupted for families, and that finding child care could be a concern. Elementary teacher assistant Sarah Jane of New Hanover County schools, had a poster full of figures that she said showed low rankings for multiple areas of spending, pay and teacher retention, but she said her objections are much about too much testing as pay.

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. This is particularly problematic as we are now competing with these same states for out-of-state candidates because our colleges and universities are not producing anywhere near the number of teachers we need and will need in the future.

Local business owner, Mike Marshall, who is a vocal advocate for teachers said, "The guarantee that goes along with being a government employee is that you have benefits and can nearly rest assured you have a job for life".

According to the National Education Association, North Carolina teachers ranked 39th in average teacher pay a year ago, with an average salary of $49,970. But the supporters of the rally point out that still represents a 9.4 percent slide in real income since 2009 due to inflation. Yet North Carolina teacher pay-which averages out just above $50,000, including local supplements and benefits- remains almost $10,000 below the national average and ranks 39th in the nation. In the 1920s and 1930s, the textile workers of North and SC waged heroic struggles in Gastonia and other mill towns against sweatshop exploitation and to end the scourge of child labor. (Interestingly, these are all states, like SC, that have spent the last 10 years de-investing in education.) When teachers from these states were interviewed about their grievances, they talked about pay for sure. He said there are projects he's working on that focus on rewarding veteran teachers and offering them more money if they take on more responsibility like mentoring other teachers.

But funding for both are on the rise. They launched a website, yesterday to get the numbers out there.

You allow us the privilege every day of entrusting us with the most precious thing in your lives.

"That's a major step".

And there is a need statewide for more support staff, counselors, social workers, nurses and school safety officers to insure our schools have adequate resources to nourish the whole child.

"This plan must include restoration of compensation for advanced degrees and longevity", a state teachers' group representative said. Teachers have also slammed lawmakers for bypassing raises for the state's most experienced educators.

Some North Carolina legislators say they're listening to teachers crammed by the thousands into the state capital, but they're not giving in to demands to sharply increase public school spending.

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. Watauga County Schools, Ashe County Schools, Catawba County Schools and Cleveland County Schools did not respond to WBTV's question on whether classes would be in session. The funding belongs to the student, so the funding should follow the child, whether it is to a district or a charter school.

Read the release from Asheville City Schools here.

Today, I-SS will join other school districts across the state by scheduling a teacher workday.

"Go ask your legislators that question: Are you going to support even more tax cuts or support better teacher pay and investment in our public schools?"

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