North Carolina teachers staging rallies to protest low pay


Sabrina Peacock: This is my 24th year of teaching in Guilford County Schools. We've done these things over and over and over again. She had originally planned to run in 2020, but after #Red4ED, "I had a front row seat in the gallery overnight to watch the debate, and watching our lawmakers really have no interest in appropriately funding public education". They also significantly add to the numbers of those participating in the May 16 rally, sponsored by the state teachers union, the North Carolina Association of Educators. With the state's largest school districts - and about one in seven districts across the state - canceling classes that day because of expected widespread teacher absences, estimates are that about half the state's public school students will have a day off from school on Wednesday.

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

We wish school were in session for our students, because that would mean teachers wouldn't be feeling the need to provide a public display to those who develop the pay scales that taxpayers ultimately underwrite. The average salary for teachers in the state is $49,970, or about $9,000 below the national average, Jewell said. "I'm hopeful that our presence will send the message to our legislators that we're fed up with the status quo".

Teacher rally in Raleigh
Teacher rally in Raleigh

"It is all about the students", said Jameel Williams, who has taught for 30 years in Vance County. "I, however, do not get paid for those days", he said. "I feel like this is something that I'm becoming more passionate about, because I'm realizing the impact that it has".

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. Almost 7,500 teachers' assistant positions have been cut in the last decade, participants argue, and nearly a quarter of the state's kids live in poverty.

Teachers and their supporters plan to wear red in solidarity during Wednesday's rally. The "purple" state briefly swung blue for Barack Obama in 2008, but soon after, Republicans swept the state legislature and later solidified their supermajority. With the broad support of parents and other members of the public, teachers, through grassroots organizing, have notched some victories in a group of mostly Republican right-to-work states.

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Education and health care workers, McAlevey says, have an advantage over the factory workers of previous generations when it comes to building a broader political and social movement.

"So many people, they tell us over and over again it's a hard job", Walker said.

"That's exactly the plight of public education right now". "We can not attract the best and brightest educators when we then pay them far less than they would make in another field requiring the degree level they achieve".

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Tamika Walker Kelly is one of those teachers who's ready to fight.

The NCGOP will roll out a website and mobile app Wednesday that will allow teachers to calculate their pay raises over the years, showing lawmakers' efforts. Lyde says she hasn't seen a raise in years. A tipping point is approaching, I think, if this trend continues in our state. I am also a 3rd grade teacher. We have done everything that has been asked of us, and then some.

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