Local educators join ‘Rally for Respect’

More than 1,000 local educators made the two-hour ride to Raleigh last week for the

Local educators join ‘Rally for Respect’
May 24
02:00 2018

Last week, thousands convened on the state capitol demanding better pay for teachers and funding for state public schools.

Despite blazing temperatures and rain showers throughout the day, nearly 30,000 teachers, administrators, students, and parents, donning bright red, delivered their message to state lawmakers in the form of a peaceful protest on Wednesday, May 16. Schools across the state, including in Forsyth County, canceled classes for the day.

Locally, three buses carrying nearly 1,000 educators made the two-hour ride to Raleigh to stand up for students and schools in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools district. Before boarding the bus, Beverly Miller said when she moved to N.C. 18 years ago, the public education system was one of the best in the country, a far cry from where the state ranks in education today.

A recent report by the NEA (National Education Association) ranks the Tar Heel State 37th in the nation for teacher pay and 39th in per-pupil spending. In North Carolina per-pupil spending is $2,400, well behind the national average and teacher pay is nearly $10,000 behind the national average.

“There’s something wrong. Something has happened in the last 10 or 15 years and we need to find out what the problem is,” said Miller who works at Konnoak Elementary School.

“We want our kids to grow. We want our parents to grow. We’re only asking for what they have stored up give it to us so that our kids can have textbooks,” she continued. “… This is our future. They are our future and what are we going to do? We’re going to need somebody to take care of us and if we don’t teach them and give them the right tools, we’re going to be lost.”

Denise McKoy, who serves as the parent involvement coordinator at Cook Literacy Model School, said she went to Raleigh to represent for all educators.

“Teachers, secretaries, TA’s (teacher assitants), bus drivers we all play a very critical part in education,” said McKoy. “… whether certified or classified, we all need to be unified because we’re student centered and it’s all about the students.”

Once in Raleigh, the band of teachers and other advocates for increased teacher pay marched to the Legislature Building on West Jones Street, where they delivered a list of demands to the N.C. General Assembly.

The list of demands included in a petition released by NCAE (North Carolina Association of Educators) states the following as its “major demands”:

*Per-Pupil Spending to the National Average in Four Years

*A Multi-Year Professional Compensation and Benefits Plan for ALL educators
–End Experienced Educator Pay Discrimination
–Average Teacher Pay to National Average in Four Years
–Significant and Livable Raises for ALL Public School Employees
–Restore Advanced Degree Pay
–Restore Longevity Pay
–Annual Cost of Living Increase
–Enhanced And Protected Health Insurance and Pension
–End Pay For Performance, Including for Administrators
–Reinstate Career Status
–Real Dedicated Planning Time and Lunch Time

*No Corporate Tax Cuts Until Per-Pupil Spending and Teacher Pay Reach National Average

*Investing in the health and well-being of our students and making schools safer
–At least 500 additional school nurses, social workers, psychologists, and counselors this year
–Improve health options for our most vulnerable students by expanding Medicaid

*Fix our crumbling schools and large class sizes with a Statewide School Construction Bond

Following the rally dubbed “Rally for Respect,” FCAE (Forsyth County Association of Educators) President Rhonda Mays said it was a step in the right direction but now the real work begins. She said now that law makers are listening, now is the time to organize locally and encourage people to vote.

When asked how they should build on the momentum following the march on the capitol Miller said, those who want to see a change in our education system have to continue the fight. “We need a good turnaround,” she continued. “I don’t think we need to stop. We have to go and really let them know that we’re not done just because the rally is only one day that doesn’t mean we’re going to stop.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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