A Few Takeaways From Wednesday's Teacher March On Raleigh

A Few Takeaways From Wednesday's Teacher March On Raleigh

6:21pm May 16, 2018
Thousands of educators filled Raleigh's city streets for a march and rally aimed at increasing teacher pay and working conditions. KERI BROWN/WFDD

The question of “what comes next?” looms now that thousands of teachers have left Raleigh after a protest march that clogged city blocks.

The teachers, many from the state’s biggest districts, were there demanding better pay and more funding for other education programs.

Some even got to meet with their legislators to discuss issues directly.

State officials estimate around 70 percent of the state’s public school students didn't have classes because districts were forced to cancel them when they found out they wouldn't have enough teachers on Wednesday. The four biggest districts were closed to students, which includes Guilford County and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

This has caused some critics, parents and legislators alike, to accuse teachers of leaving their classrooms to play politics.

WFDD's Keri Brown was in Raleigh covering the protests throughout the day. She spoke with our own Sean Bueter Wednesday afternoon to share some updates.

Interview Highlights

On the impact of the scene, with thousands of teachers holding signs and dressed in red:

There were thousands of educators here, even parents and some students were here as well. I don't have the exact number, but I'm hearing anywhere from 10,000-to-15,000. It was definitely a sea of red. There were so many people and how it all started was a march early this morning from NCAE headquarters. They went down to the Capitol and some teachers did meet with lawmakers to discuss their concerns. And then we saw a big rally towards the end of the day. Governor Cooper was among the speakers.

On what they want from the General Assembly, beyond a pay raise:

They {educators} say it's more than better pay. They're talking about more resources in the schools. When they talk about school safety, they mean more counselors, more nurses, they want to see more money for improvements in buildings. They say a lot of buildings are outdated. They need more technology. Textbooks are also outdated in many districts. They want to see more investments overall.

On whether educators are satisfied with the day's events:

They are satisfied with the rally. They actually are very surprised at the turnout. Organizers themselves from NCAE told me that that this just really blossomed into something that they feel they haven't seen before.

You know, we saw parents, teachers, students, all of them kind of pretty much saying the same message of what we talked about before, but they're hoping that by meeting with lawmakers individually it will help– and they don't plan on stopping – I've actually heard some rumblings of trying to organize another [rally] in the near future, as well as just doing some efforts on the local level.

Their big thing is the momentum nationally. Here in North Carolina, they [educators at the rally] feel like they just want to keep public education in the eyes of lawmakers especially during budget planning which is going on right now.

(Ed.: This transcription has been lightly edited for clarity.)

Support your
public radio station