Yesterday marked the second annual “Red4Ed” March in Raleigh, NC, organized by the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE). Students, teachers, and community members from all across North Carolina gathered in downtown Raleigh, where they marched to protest the unfair payment and treatment of school teachers. Schools across the state have been shut down for the day, and the date has been labeled a teacher work day.
Jordan students, Aminah Jenkins (student body president), Grace Howell, Olivia Howell, Jacqueline Rice, and myself, decided to attend the march yesterday. Here’s what the day looked like.
The march started in the early morning on the streets of Downtown Raleigh. Swarms of people gathered in red attire, wielding signs with calls for policy change. With protest music blaring, news helicopters spinning above, and drums pounding, the sound swelled all throughout the city.
The march commenced at 10:30 am. The target was the General Assembly building. The crowd arrived at the building, where legislators looked down on the march through windows and on balconies. On the stretch of land behind the building, the rally was being set up. A stage was standing at the front, with a swarm of cameramen from news outlets focused on it. Groups are organized by school district, where we meet up with some of our teachers; Ms. Howes, Mr. Perez, Ms. Taliaferro, Ms. Painter, Mr. Buch, Ms. Saveliff, Mr. Holthaus, Ms. Happi, Ms. Marchione, and Ms. Potter.
While we waited for the rally to begin, I talked to some of the people standing in our region’s section. Emma Hughes stood out to me– this is probably because her sign was so well done; painted like the children’s book “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom”, she writes “Will You Fund the Classroom?”. Hughes, as a student teacher from NC State, represents Wake County schools. She expresses her gratitude for the position she has, but that she wants to make sure she “starts her career off strong” by making sure educators such as herself are guaranteed a stable and accepting career throughout their years of teaching.
Programs were handed out throughout the day, not only organizing the event, but spelling out the organization’s main concerns. Red4Ed’s slogan, “One March, 5 Priorities”, summarizes the goals of the march; (1) raise in minimum wage to $15 + a 5% cost of living fee implemented for teachers, (2) provide enough professionals in schools to meet national standards, (3) expansion of Medicaid, (4) reinstating retirement benefits for teachers, and (5) reinstating advanced degree compensation.
While marchers waited for the rally to begin, we noticed some familiar faces in the crowd. Durham County Commissioner Wendy Jacobs and Mayor Steve Schewel, were in the Durham County section, where they meet citizens and talked to the crowd. (Mayor Schewel and I ended up doing the Cupid Shuffle together, which was as marvelous as it sounds). At 12:30, the speeches commenced on stage. Speakers are organized by the 5 issues, and consisted of prominent teachers, students, and concerned members of the community. In between every speech, rally cries were yelled across the area.
Overall, the march was an extremely rewarding event. As Chris Howell, our honorary chaperone of the day, puts it; “I’m so proud of you girls for getting out of bed and coming here instead of sleeping in today.” Seeing everyone passionately dedicating their day off to fighting for improvement of our education system made everything worth it– including the sunburns.
Thank you to everyone who attended this event. On behalf of the Jordan student body, we hope to see you all there in 2020.