Teachers demand higher pay, more school funding

Charlene Craig
May 17, 2018

"I'm here to make sure our students have what they need to have a bright future", said Tami Brantley, 51, a teacher of 26 years from Cabarrus County, on the outskirts of Charlotte.

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

The teachers' group favors a proposal by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to raise salaries by stopping planned tax cuts on corporations and high-income households. Today teachers in North Carolina took to the streets demanding change.

He said if he had gone he would be advocating for more funding to support schools.

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More than 20 years ago, North Carolina's Supreme Court ruled in the landmark Leandro v. State case that the state was bound by its Constitution to grant every child "an opportunity to receive a sound basic education". "Our veteran teachers have had nearly no raises", said Graham.

The North Carolina General Assembly opened its annual session with thousands of teachers and their allies inside and outside the Legislative Building.

"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.

North Carolina is now ranked 37th in teacher pay and 39th in per-pupil spending, according to a report released by the National Education Association in April.

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Thousands of North Carolina teachers poured into downtown Raleigh and marched to the state's General Assembly on Wednesday morning in the latest in a series of red-state public school teacher uprisings across the country.

New teachers in SC bring home a little more than $33,057, both are below the national average.

More than 1 million public school students got the day off because of the protest, The News & Observer reported.

The gavels went down on the House and Senate shortly after noon Wednesday, amid galleries full of teacher support clad in red shirts.

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"It's hard to teach when we don't have the supplies that we need, when we don't have the curriculum in place in time", Ann Simmons, an elementary school teacher in Raleigh, told WTVD-TV. "Unless we make a lot of noise, our representatives, the people in that building aren't going to listen to us, they are going to keep doing what they've been doing all along".

"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. "We know you are critical for the success of our schools, but we have to be willing to prioritize it and pay for it", he said. She said she has a personal stake in the success of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools since three grandchildren will be entering the system over the next three years. He said the day's focus should be "the fact that a million kids are not going to be in school (Wednesday) because a political organization wants to have folks come there to communicate with us or send a message".

The group laid out a list of demands before the protest, calling on the state to meet the national averages in per-student spending and teacher pay within four years.

And with the state's finances stabilized after the Great Recession, teachers say it's time to catch up on deferred school spending. Their pay increased by 4.2 percent over the previous year - the second-biggest increase in the country - and was estimated to rise an average 1.8 percent this year, the NEA said. He said they should be paid like the professionals they are.

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Amy Buchen, a first-grade educator at Brassfield Elementary School in Raleigh, says she was amazed by the vast community that formed in the wake of this morning's protests.

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