As a journalist who went to this rally to cover it and as a daughter of an educator, this rally was nothing short of inspiring. Being able to march in the rally with my mom is something I will always remember. Throughout my life, my mom has taught public school on top of homeschooling my siblings and me when we were younger.
She is still a public school teacher and works over nine hours at school, then goes home and plans lessons, emails parents, grades papers, and prepares for another day of school until she falls asleep with her head in her lesson plan book. Aside from doing work for school around the clock, she spends grocery money on school supplies and things she needs for her classroom.
All educators and anyone who works within a public school system should get the appreciation they deserve. Teachers put everything they have into making students achieve success and have a better future and rarely miss a day of work.
Teachers put their heart into teaching, even when students don’t care about school. Teachers care even when no one else does because that’s what teachers do. Lawmakers should be right by the teachers’ side to support them and make it easier for them to teach by listening to them and putting them first.
–Below is the article I wrote for my university’s newspaper along with additional pictures.
Over 20,000 teachers, principals, students, and families from all over North Carolina flooded downtown Raleigh wearing red on May 16, demanding that lawmakers increase teachers’ pay, along with an increase in funding to be able to provide for students’ educational needs.
“I am hoping to see more respect for teachers,” said Rebecca Senter, Wake County school teacher. “The important change I would like to see is more funding for supplies for our students.”
Protesters gathered at the North Carolina Association of Educators building and marched up Fayetteville St. to the General Assembly where lawmakers had their opening session, while other advocates went ahead and lined up at the General Assembly to make sure they got in. Some protestors and advocates lined up before the building even opened.
This rally wasn’t just in support of teachers getting an increase in pay. It was about sticking up for all students by wanting things such as better school safety, including more nurses and counselors, increasing the funds allocated per-pupil, bringing back a pay increase for getting a higher degree, and ending corporate tax cuts.
“I hope that lawmakers hear the stories and see the lack of resources, funding, and materials for all students,” stated Sara Warren, a Randolph County teacher. “The most important thing would be for lawmakers to raise teacher pay to at least the living wage. They advertise that the average pay is $50,000, but most pay raises go to new teachers. Veteran teachers have been skipped over the past several years.”
As the march started, teachers were energized and chanting “remember, remember we vote in November,” while carrying signs, some of which said “money can’t buy us happiness, but it can buy working technology, books, copiers and copy paper, basic school supplies, teachers and support staff, working AC units and plumbing, a way out of a second job, money to spend on our own children, and a savings for retirement.”
Marchers also carried flags and banners, and waved at workers, pedestrians, and students who were supporting and watching the march on the sides of the streets. The protestors made their way to the legislature, and waited in lines that wrapped around the building to get inside and sit in on the opening session of both the House and Senate chambers. With a capacity of 4,000 people, not everyone from the overwhelming crowd could get inside.
Protesters piled into and outside of the legislature to advocate for more funding, and booed when lawmakers voted to adjourn as the legislative session closed. Once the session closed, teachers had the opportunity to talk with congressional representatives as they welcomed teachers into their offices to express their concerns and opinions.
“I’m hoping that people will see the passion that North Carolina teachers have for their students, who are the future of our state, and vote for change in the amount of funding schools are given,” said Gina Golden, Wake County school teacher. “If we have inspired teachers and parents to vote for the interest of their children and all schools throughout the state, this day of advocacy will have been a success.”
Later on in the afternoon, there was a rally on Halifax Mall that opened with Governor Roy Cooper giving a speech along with other teachers speaking. Throughout the protest and rally, the energy stayed high as everyone came together to demand more school funding and budget adjustments, all in the hopes to provide a better future for students and teachers.
“Today was one of the most incredible experiences,” stated Kathryn Brooks, a teacher in Wake County.” “I witnessed a passionate community uniting to change the world. I’ll never forget the tears we shed when people came out of their offices on Fayetteville Street and just started clapping as we marched today. The signs couldn’t have told our story more beautifully. Our students deserve better.”