RALEIGH, N.C. (WAVY) — An estimated 30,000 marched on the North Carolina capital on Wednesday, demanding teacher raises and more funding for students.
Several teachers and students from Northeast North Carolina were among them.
Dressed in red T-shirts, the tide rolled through downtown Raleigh and crashed on the legislative building, where the Republican-controlled legislature started its annual work session.
“They need to start investing in the public school classroom instead of corporate boardrooms. We’ve had five years of their policies and they’re dismantling public education as we know it,” said North Carolina Association of Educators President Mark Jewell.
Their message, he said, is clear: raise teacher pay and per pupil spending to the national average.
North Carolina currently ranks 37th in teacher pay and 39th in per pupil spending, according to the National Education Association.
House Speaker Tim Moore, a Republican, addressed the demonstrators’ concerns.
“What I say to those who want us to do more, I say look at what we are doing, look at our budget that we will be voting on in just a few weeks, it has a 6.2 percent pay raise. How many North Carolinians out there who aren’t a teacher, who aren’t working for government, are going to get a 6.2 percent pay raise this year?”
Jewell said teachers will all be back to work tomorrow and they’ll also be at the polls in November. After all he said, “this will be fruitless if we don’t march all these folks and their communities to the polls November the 6.”
With so many teachers absent from class today, dozens of school districts across the state closed.
10 On Your Side checked with local school districts. Dare County Schools reported eight teachers took personal days to attend the rally and one teacher took off from Perquimans Country Schools.
Wednesday’s rally is part of a national trend. Teachers in West Virginia, Arizona, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Colorado have all won pay raises, benefits or overall school funding.