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North Carolina teachers join 'Red for Ed' walkouts for higher pay

17 May 2018

Mark Jewell, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators, said up to 15,000 teachers and thousands of more students and their parents are joining in the all-day rally at the state Capitol in Raleigh.

Strikes, walkouts and protest rallies have swept through West Virginia, Arizona, Kentucky, Colorado and Oklahoma since February.

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

First of all, teacher pay in SC is, to say the least, inadequate.

North Carolina ranks 35th in the country in teacher pay, but Kristin Bellerose, a Wake County teacher and North Carolina Association of Educators board member, said it's not just about their salary.

Edgecombe County Public Schools made no move to cancel classes on Wednesday.

"The main reason I'm here is, I've seen the pattern over the years where I feel the current politicians in charge of the state are anti-public education", said Raleigh high school teacher Bill Notarnicola as he prepared a time-lapse photo along the parade route.

Yevonne Brannon, chair of Public Schools First North Carolina, said beyond direct investment in schools, lawmakers need to look at the whole picture.

While low pay makes teaching a struggle, just as frustrating is that teachers spend hundreds of dollars a year out of their own pockets to keep classrooms on track, said Patrick, who's been teaching for four years. "I ask that you support them in their decision to highlight the needs of their profession and your children".

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".

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The demonstration was believed to be the largest teacher protest in North Carolina's history, with educators creating a sea of red on Fayetteville Street and inside the assembly galleries as they demanded more public school funding and better salaries for school staffers.

"It's the beginning of a six-month stretch of time to hold our legislators accountable for prioritizing corporate tax cuts instead of our classrooms", the group said in a statement.

Gov. Roy Cooper spoke at Wednesday's "Rally for Respect", put on by the North Carolina Association of Educators. The senator says the legislature has been giving teachers raises, but a CMS teacher tells FOX 46 Charlotte her take home pay is actually going down. "It is tax fairness for teacher pay, plain and simple".

Brumble said the group wants lawmakers to know they need more funds for building upkeep, textbooks and student resources. They've had some salary increases in recent years, but when adjusted for inflation, they've lost 9.4% in pay since 2009.

But funding for both are on the rise. When we say more in North Carolina, we're talking the bare necessities. "That's huge. That's more than a lot of people out there in the private sector are getting", Moore said.

" North Carolina received a D for school funding in the Education Week Quality Counts report". Well, how do you get highly-qualified teachers, and want to keep them, and not really give them advancement for having those degrees? Teachers have also slammed lawmakers for bypassing raises for the state's most experienced educators.

According to the National Education Association, North Carolina ranks 39th in public school teacher pay in the U.S. Teachers received a 4.2 percent pay bump past year, but they still earn less than what they were making a decade ago when adjusted for inflation. Public charter schools do not take money away from district schools.

Read the release from Asheville City Schools here.

Roughly 65 percent of schools in the state were closed Wednesday so teachers could attend the rally.

North Carolina teachers join 'Red for Ed' walkouts for higher pay