Teachers’ Perspective on Raleigh March

Teachers%27+Perspective+on+Raleigh+March

Caleb Stine, Staff Writer

The North Carolina Association of Educators organized a community rally on Wednesday, May 1, to protest economic conditions in our state’s public schools. The stated goals of the rally included a $15 minimum wage for school support staff; increase in hiring for school librarians, psychologists, counselors, and nurses; expansion of Medicaid for students and families; retiree benefits for teachers, and masters pay for teachers.

 

As thousands flocked to Raleigh, I wondered how the Jordan faculty felt about the protest and the state of North Carolina public schools today.

On Wednesday, I conducted a series of interviews with teachers in an attempt to find out the answers to those very questions.

 

Mr. Bernal, a Spanish teacher who had attended the rally said that “the main reason I went was better pay.” The average teacher pay right now in North Carolina is about $54,000, 29th in the nation. While advocating for higher teacher pay was a central part of the protest, a common misconception about the rally participants is that they are only focused on teacher pay, which simply isn’t the case. Expansion of Medicaid for low-income students and more funding for support staff, such as nurses or mental health professionals, are also central to this movement.

 

Ms. Couch, an English teacher, did not attend the rally because she “really does not like crowds.” However, she used her voice to write campaigns and advertise for the rally. For her, one of the most important issues facing the NC public school system is the class size.  “Class size, for me, is a big one. Small class sizes greatly improve the behaviors of students, even those who struggle with behavior problems.” She explained why the expansion of support staff funding is so important for her. “Loss of support staff funding has hurt our community drastically, and has created a worse job environment in our schools.”

 

Mr. Lowman, a new English teacher, did attend the Raleigh rally, saying rather passionately, “Public schools in our state are being neglected, students know it, teachers know it, everyone knows it.” He believes that this rally was a step in the right direction. He says that “real change can happen if people are standing together for a common goal.” Lowman and Couch both expressed their concerns for expansion of support staff funding, with Lowman adding that he would love to see Medicaid expanded and general student services improved.

While Mr. McDonald, long time JHS teacher, did not attend the rally due to professional obligations, he was “…behind it 100 percent. I did my part my communicating and advocating on social media the best I could.” McDonald echoed a common theme found in staff interviews, “Support staff, psychologists, and nurses need to be given enough resources to help our students succeed.”

 

Overall, the Jordan Faculty echoed support for educational advocacy, whether or not they were able to attend.