NC Education Leaders Want the Governor to Call Special Session Over Education Budget Cuts
More than 100 teachers, parents and community members gathered in Winston-Salem Wednesday to rally against education budget cuts. A similar rally was also held in Greensboro.
The education rallies are among several protests across North Carolina, after state lawmakers passed a budget late last month.
The crowd at Grace Court in the West end of Winston-Salem had a message for lawmakers in Raleigh chanting, “We will remember in November.”
“I see teachers working hard every day for the kids in our community. I’m worried about teacher morale and keeping them in the classroom, says John MacMillan, who teaches at Ibraham Elementary School.
Some of the protestors held signs that read “Don’t destroy public schools” and “Our teachers deserve better”. They say they are angry over the legislature’s approval of a bill that cuts $117 million from the public education budget and offers no raises for teachers in North Carolina. North Carolina currently ranks 46 out of 50 states for teachers pay.
Teachers also voiced concerns over measures to end teacher tenure and bonuses for achieving higher degrees.
“They are taking away our right to get advanced degrees and get paid for them. We are not being encouraged financially to get an advanced degree and be better at what we do,” says Selvyn Jordan-middle school math teacher in Forsyth County.
Kelly McCraw is a seventh grade math and social studies teacher at Southeast Middle School in Kernersville. This is her second year of teaching.
“I grew up teaching and always knew that I wanted to be one. I am a North Carolina teaching fellow, which encourages new people to become educators in North Carolina. But because of funding cuts, that program has been impacted significantly. I’m also really concerned about classroom size. It keeps increasing, but we don’t have the resources to provide for students,” says McCraw.
The North Carolina Association of Educators, Public Schools First and Progress N.C. organized the protests Wednesday in the Triad. The NCAE and other groups are encouraging the community to wear red on the first day of school to show their support for public education.
Rodney Ellis, president of the NCAE, says his organization is considering their options for a legal challenge to some of the education terms in the state budget.
“We believe that career status is a right and is an entitlement that we earn as educators and I feel that they can’t and shouldn’t take that away. We are also going to question whether or not they violate the constitution with this budget itself because they are constitutionally bound to provide a sound, public education for every child in North Carolina and this budget does not do that,” says Ellis.
Ellis also says, “We are looking at the voucher bill. School vouchers have been challenged in other states and so we are going to see what we can do here about challenging the vouchers,”
Education leaders want Gov. Pat McCrory to call a special session to revisit the budget issue.
But the governor’s spokesperson, Ryan Tronovitch, tells WFDD that a special session will not happen as of right now. He also points out that the budget includes more funding for K-12 grades than ever before.