Thousands of educators are expected in Raleigh on Wednesday, May 1st, to demand more funding for public education from the legislature. Dozens of districts had to cancel classes because they didn't have enough substitute teachers.
The North Carolina Association of Educators held a similar event last May. WFDD's Keri Brown spoke with Ronda Mays, president of the Forsyth County chapter of the NCAE. Mays says this year's event is about more than just increasing teacher pay.
On why educators are holding another rally and what's different this year:
Last year, we focused on making certain we brought more awareness to the issues surrounding public education here in North Carolina concerning our per-pupil spending, concerning the conditions and issues directly related to resources for our students as well as the pay issues. This year, our focus is more on making certain that before this budget is passed that our legislators actually hear from us, so they can be clear on what the issues are and what our five priorities are for our students as well as our educators.
On the NCAE's five priorities:
Our five priorities are school safety, Medicaid expansion for our students and their families, a minimum of $15 an hour wage for all educators in our education system, as well as master's and advanced level pay for all educators and restoring our retirement benefits back to where they were before 2017—that people would be able to have health care in retirement.
On concerns from some parents and lawmakers about having the event on a school day:
So yes, it is on a school day, and yes, some schools have had to cancel classes for students and change it to [an] optional teacher workday. But the important part is and what we need people to understand is we are doing this in order to make certain our public education system has the resources when it comes to that budget being passed. Our legislators need to hear from us now.
On the investments and progress lawmakers say have been made in public education:
The rally is about continuing to bring awareness. Yes, I've heard those different concerns that some of our legislators have said, and yes, we thank them for the adjustments that they've made and for the monies that have been directed toward public education. But it does not get us back to where we were before we had the major cuts, and we need more. Our student population is growing in North Carolina.
On what is the most pressing issue:
The most pressing issue is to make certain our per-pupil spending is increased because when we have the funds necessary in our schools, we're able to provide resources, and we can be more innovative with the education that we provide our students in our schools.
And if I could have a second, it would be respect for education, respect for all educators, and when we have respect a lot of those other things will come in place.
*Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news