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16 May 2018, 02:59 | Devin Moran
Educators, lawmakers prepare for massive rally Wednesday
The thousands of North Carolina teachers participating in Wednesday's protest in Raleigh will still be paid for the day, but some might lose $50 for not showing up to teach their classes.
"I think a lot of us started to see, 'well shoot, if West Virginia can do it, North Carolina can do it, ' " middle school Spanish teacher Sally Merryman told NPR. With the state's largest school districts - and about one in seven districts across the state - canceling classes that day because of expected widespread teacher absences, estimates are that about half the state's public school students will have a day off from school on Wednesday. "And that's what they got".
North Carolina doesn't allow either formal teacher unions or strikes, but that doesn't prohibit what is essentially a work slowdown from teachers who collectively choose to take personal leave the same day.
Teachers are demanding the state catch up in teacher pay and per-pupil expenditure within the next four years.
Berger also blamed "politically motivated rhetoric and misinformation" for criticism of lawmakers' public school decisions.
But many Republicans believe the rally is nothing more than a political stunt.
Lawmakers have been criticized for approving billions in tax cuts while public school funds eroded. "This is my 37th year", said Erlene Lyde.
Cols continues to say he can't afford to attend the May 16 rally in Raleigh where teachers are expected to protest at the General Assembly when lawmakers reconvene for the legislative short session.
"We've been fighting in North Carolina for the last 10 years against the dismantling of our public schools", says President Bryan Proffitt.
The march is an effort to speak to legislators and hold them accountable for the next six months, and to make teachers and students their first priority, said Tim Crowley, communications manager for NCAE.
On average, teachers make more than most other North Carolinians.
Brittney Dennis: This is my 6th year teaching 3rd grade in Guilford County Schools, of Greensboro, North Carolina.
Legislative leaders and their surrogates are emphasizing that this year's pay increase would mark the fifth consecutive set of teacher raises. Over 18,000 N.C. teachers have recieved at least a $14,000 raise since 2014. It basically kept dropping until the past year in the period.
But some local teachers are saying their paychecks don't reflect the state average. They started in West Virginia, where a teacher strike closed the state's entire school system for almost two weeks.
The legislature slashed some 7,500 teacher assistant positions, thus loading more work on the remaining teachers. The House and Senate will convene at noon.
Look for Policy Watch coverage throughout the day Wednesday.
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