« Fla. Superintendent to Become the New Teacher Center's Next CEO | Main | North Carolina Teachers Turn Out in Droves for Daylong Protest »

The Latest in a Season of Protests: N.C. Teachers Will Rally on Wednesday


About 40 school districts across North Carolina—including the state's largest—will close Wednesday as thousands of teachers are set to rally for a nearly $10,000 pay raise over four years and more school funding.

Teachers across the state will head to Raleigh, the state capital, to attend the "March for Students and Rally for Respect," which coincides with the state legislature's first day back in session. Droves of teachers had requested personal leave for the day, forcing school districts to cancel classes. North Carolina is the fifth state this spring to see such widespread teacher activism. 

See alsoThe Faces of the Teacher Revolt

The state teachers' union, the North Carolina Association of Educators, released its legislative priorities earlier this week. Those include bringing North Carolina's per-pupil spending and average teacher pay to the national average in four years, as well as adding 500 additional school nurses, social workers, and counselors to public schools. The union is advocating for no corporate tax cuts until per-pupil spending and teacher pay reach the national average.

In North Carolina, the average teacher salary is $49,970, according to the National Education Association. The national average is $59,660. The NCAE estimates that the state's per-pupil spending is about $2,400 behind the national average.

Teachers in the state have already been met with some resistance: State Superintendent Mark Johnson has said he does not condone the protest, as closing schools "affects not only students, but also parents, hourly workers who work at our schools, and also other teachers who might not be taking part in that day."

And one Republican state lawmaker had some harsh words for teachers participating in the protest, saying teachers' union "thugs" are behind it.  

"The hypocrisy is that they say they are supporting the students. One less day of instruction does not help students," Rep. Mark Brody wrote on his Facebook page. "Teaching our children that it is OK to not show up for work does not set a good example."

Legislative leaders have said public education spending has already increased by nearly $2 billion since 2011, and that the state budget includes a fifth consecutive raise for teachers next school year. 

Teachers in other states who walked out of their classrooms this spring did see some legislative victories: The state legislatures in Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Arizona all passed teacher pay raises, and teachers in Colorado and Kentucky saw some concessions on controversial changes to their pensions. 

See also: The Teachers Are Winning. What Does It Mean for the Profession? 

Meanwhile, teachers in a Colorado town just concluded a five-day strike—the state's first official strike in nearly 25 years. (Teachers across the state had forced school closures earlier in the year by protesting at the state Capitol, but they weren't striking against a school board.) The Pueblo teachers' union voted to accept a deal that includes a 2 percent cost-of-living raise for this school year, retroactive from January, and a 2.5 percent raise next school year. The union had originally been seeking a 2 percent raise for the full 2017-18 school year. 

Image: People gather outside the North Carolina Legislative Building in Raleigh during a protest in 2014. Protesters called for a host of repeals on Republican-written laws, including teacher pay and unemployment insurance. —Gerry Broome/AP-File
Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.


Most Viewed on Education Week



Recent Comments