Monday, 12 November, 2018

Teachers demand higher pay, more school funding

Many teachers in Southeastern North Carolina make less than the state average for teacher salaries Many teachers in Southeastern North Carolina make less than the state average for teacher salaries
Lora Ball | 17 May, 2018, 16:50

"Teachers work magic with what we don't have". "I mean we're treated like a stepchild and we are the professionals that make the professionals".

Three of North Carolina's largest school districts are closed Wednesday as thousands of teachers are expected to rally for better working conditions and education funding. The N.C. average has gained eight spots on the national rankings since 2013, and public school teachers are paid better than a lot of North Carolinians.

One of the teachers marching in Raleigh was Darleen Trujillo, a fifth-grade language arts and social studies teacher at Pembroke Elementary School.

"This is nearly as big as my class size", one sign read. As legislators convened, the crowd could be heard chanting, "Remember, remember, we vote in November".

Many bore the same message, like "Kids are worth more than 39th". There was a huge, supportive turnout from many counties. The ongoing wave of teacher strikes is part of an upsurge in working class struggle across the USA and internationally since the start of 2018. "They are our future, but we are not investing in our future".

However, Conrad stressed that Republican legislators are not going to "shut down charter schools and do away with the opportunity scholarships" that pay a portion of the tuition for low-income students to attend a charter, religious or private school. "What they pay you doesn't match up with what you do, and after so long your pay doesn't increase". She said lawmakers have let teachers down by failing to equip them properly to do their jobs. "They are not paying them enough to be able to maintain a decent way of life".

Barbara Faulkner, a South Granville High School English teacher who makes $53,000 per year, said a house she owned went into foreclosure because she had planned her spending around a seniority-based raise plan that was stopped a decade ago. Legislators briefly recognized the teachers present-and one in particular: Peggy Locklear, who worked for the Public Schools of Robeson County for fifty-seven years.

"The school I love to teach at, our classes are 30-35 kids every class", said a Hendersonville teacher.

"We need to have sufficient resources for these babies". That's what brings us here. "People aren't getting their needs met when they're small".

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Teachers also expressed anger over the union's opposition to call a statewide strike. "Veteran teachers have been skipped over the past several years". "The recession hit our state hard". "I don't want them to never think about teaching because of these issues".

"It is tax fairness for teacher pay", Cooper said. "It's the children, and we have to have a heart for our children", he said. There was the "I got 99 problems and cuts to funding pretty much caused all of them", which got some laughs.

Year after year our teachers are asked to do more with less.

Any real change may have to come through the voting booth, Pierce said.

The claim that there is no money for decent wages and benefits, textbooks and the training and hiring of new teachers and school employees is a lie. Instead of impotent appeals and lobbying campaigns aimed at the two corporate-controlled parties, these committees should establish lines of communication between educators across the U.S. and internationally and fight to mobilize the broadest support in the working class for a national strike to defend and vastly improve public education. In April 2011, Perdue ordered an immediate 0.5 percent cut to teachers' wages, cutting annual education appropriations by hundreds of millions of dollars.

For those in the Western North Carolina who are unable to attend the events in Raleigh, there is a local satellite march in Asheville starting at 10 a.m.at the BLOCK off Biltmore. Among professions that require a four-year degree, teaching is one of the lowest-paid careers that a college graduate can pick.

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

"Each county feels the same way", Barnes said. We would rather be in the classroom, but this is too important.

"It was historic, it certainly was", said Rep. Charles Graham. "It's great to be part of a movement like this".

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