News briefs

North Carolina teachers stage one-day walkout

line art, people standing in rows hand in hand North Carolina experienced the largest organized political action by teachers in the state’s history on May 16 as tens of thousands of teachers walked off the job to rally in the state capital for higher wages and education funding. The event shut down public schools for more than 1 million students.

The rally, the March for Students and Rally for Respect, was organized by the North Carolina Association of Educators, a professional association. North Carolina state law outlaws collective bargaining in the public sector.

The association said it wanted lawmakers to invest in the health and well-being of students, address large class sizes and “crumbling schools” and “prioritize classrooms and not corporate board rooms.”

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, in an effort to provide more funding to public schools, called for a freeze to the state tax cuts that are scheduled to take effect next year. Republican lawmakers rejected the governor’s proposal.

According to the North Carolina Association of Educators, pay for teachers in North Carolina is about $9,000 below the national average, with the average teacher in the state earning only $49,970 a year. Annual per pupil funding is $2,400 below the national average.

Educators are calling for state legislators to raise both teacher salaries and per-pupil spending to the national average within the next four years. They also have demanded that a $1.9 billion school construction bond referendum be put before voters.

One of the protesters, Ruth Johnsen, a music teacher at Ligon Middle School in Raleigh, said, “Educators need to be respected. It is not an expense, it’s an investment.”

The News & Observer, May 16
BuzzFeed, May 16
The Hill, May 16

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