Raleigh, N.C. — Teachers from the Triangle and all across North Carolina will march in downtown Raleigh Wednesday to urge lawmakers to increase state funding for education. This story will be updated from the Capitol throughout the day.
12:30 p.m.: Teachers and protesters are clapping rhythmically outside the legislative chamber. Many are chanting, “Remember, remember, we vote in November.” Lawmakers continue the session, but the sound is penetrating the room.
11:40 p.m.: Inside the Capitol, it’s hard to tell where the line to get in ends and the crowd of protesters begins. People who have made it through security say it’s currently a 20 to 30 minute wait. Once they do get inside, they’re particularly appreciative of the air conditioning.
Capitol police are counting the number of people entering, but won’t share that number – at least not yet.
11:30 p.m: As rain begins to fall, teacher Karen Braxton from Pender County holds her sign that reads, “I got chemo while pregnant on Friday… at work Monday. Please question my loyalty.” She said it’s insulting that people have accused teachers of not being loyal for marching when she works three jobs so she can continue to teach.
“You can’t say I’m not loyal to my classroom and my students. It’s insulting,” she said. “These schools in this state. We’re so underfunded. We can’t draw in the most excited, motivated people. People are leaving. They don’t want to teach here.”
“We’re going to change the trajectory of public education in North Carolina,” NCAE President Mark Jewel told WRAL. “This is a historic day for the state of North Carolina, and I’m proud to lead the way.”
“We are seeing teachers leaving the profession because they can’t keep working two jobs to support their families,” a Wake County teacher said. “People need to know the the people they are electing and their views on education a funding.”
10:45 a.m.: “Our students don’t have the resources they need. We’ve lost teachers, we’ve lost teacher’s assistants and we’ve lost funding for supplies,” a teacher from Guilford County Schools said. “This isn’t just about our salaries. This is about our students.”
Among the marchers’ chants: “This is what democracy looks like” and “Remember we vote in November.”
“The early bird catches the worm,” Marks-Evans smiled.
“I’m going to talk for all educators – we are very grateful for the raises that we have had, but it’s not enough,” Marks-Evans said. “Inflation’s going up, cost of living’s going up, gas is going up. What you’ve given us is not enough because we’re still having to supply the classroom if it’s lacking in any way.”
“We have been getting some pay raises, but it’s kind of little crumbs,” Gould agreed. “As an art teacher, I don’t think in terms of 5 or 10 years, but 500 or 5000. We need to do a better job long-term. What we have now is not sustainable.”
7:45 a.m.: Crowds of teachers are gathering at the NCAE. At 10 a.m., they will march to the legislative building, where other teachers and lawmakers are waiting for them. A discussion will be held at noon followed by a rally at 3 p.m.
7:30 a.m.: “Education is the number one priority of North Carolina and has been for some time — it’s over 57 percent of the budget,” said Rep. Craig Horn, who is waiting to meet with teachers at the legislative building. “It’s the largest thing we do — it affects more people, we spend more money on it…so I expect and am looking forward to learning from [the teachers]. I hope to learn what are their challenges and show them what challenges we face from this side of the aisle.”
6:30 a.m.: “I go to work every day to make a difference, but today it’s a different kind of difference we’re trying to make,” said Jasmine Lauer, a Wake County teacher waiting for the march to begin at the NCAE.
“We are here today to remind the General Assembly that public education is the great equalizer for North Carolina. “I think it’s important that they put faces with those public school dollars because it’s really easy for them to talk about taxes and buildings and structures, but what we’re really talking about is children.”
6 a.m.: Teachers across North Carolina are waking up and getting ready for this morning’s rally in Raleigh. Many teachers are “carpooling” with other teachers to take charter buses to the North Carolina Association of Educators building in downtown Raleigh to begin the march for the legislative building.
Teachers will march from the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) building located at 700 S. Salisbury Street to the legislative building on W. Jones Street at 10 a.m. and have planned a speech for noon.
State lawmakers have increased teachers‘ salaries for the past four years, and the average teacher salary in North Carolina is $51,214; however, most teachers say that isn’t the case for them, and teachers who make higher salaries are bringing up the overall average. North Carolina currently ranks 37 in the nation for teacher pay.
“There is no question that the NCAE is very closely aligned with the Democratic party in North Carolina,” said GOP Senate leader Phil Berger. “Much of what we’re hearing is politically motivated.” Berger and other elected officials said they will be glad to meet with educators from their districts attending the rally.
In Durham, educators are preparing for the rally by offering bus rides downtown. A sign-up sheet allowed teachers to reserve their spots on buses leaving from Hillside and Riverside high schools at 8:15 a.m. Monday to begin the journey to Raleigh.
IMAGES: Images: Teachers rallyIMAGES: Thousands march through Raleigh seeking money for educationMap: The rally’s pathSky 5 videoSchools serving lunchRain will be scattered, heavy at timesTeachers meet at high schools to bus to rallyProfessional pay, safer schools among teachers‘ requests at Rally for RespectGOP leader: NC teacher rally is politically motivatedWRAL coverage of Raleigh teachers rallyNC’s average teacher pay is $51,214. How many teachers make that?As thousands of teachers rally in Raleigh, NC superintendent will be 100 miles awayTeachers prepare for rally despite some oppositionGOP lawmakers say they’re giving teachers raisesExpect congestion in downtown RaleighSky 5: Teachers, supporters take to the streets of downtown RaleighRaw: Supporters bring signs, voices to downtown RaleighTeachers seeking more resources fill North Carolina streets