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home : news : education May 22, 2018

5/16/2018 11:07:00 PM
March for Students and Rally for Respect
Educators from Lincoln County joined others from across the state in a massive demonstration in Raleigh on Wednesday
Lincoln County educators joined others from across the state in the massive demonstration in Raleigh.
Lincoln County educators joined others from across the state in the massive demonstration in Raleigh.
The day began early as they got on a packed bus to make the trip.All photos courtesy of Dana Avery, Love Memorial School, Lincoln County NCAE president
The day began early as they got on a packed bus to make the trip.

All photos courtesy of Dana Avery, Love Memorial School, Lincoln County NCAE president
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Wayne Howard
News Journalist

It was a big day for Lincoln County educators who made the trip to Raleigh on Wednesday (May 16th).  They got to meet  NCAE President Mark Jewel and Vice-President Kristy Moore and former NC Superintendent Bob Etheridge.  The atmosphere was at times more like a party than a protest, but the teachers who made the trip had to take a personal day to go.  Lincoln County Schools, like Catawba County, Newton-Conover, and Cleveland County, did not declare the day an optional teacher workday as did Gaston County and Hickory City Schools.  41 of the state's school districts did.

The teachers began their day early--getting on a bus to make the three-hour plus journey.  They gathered at NCAE Headquarters, and from there they marched over a mile to the Legislature building.  Some packed the galleries there as the General Assembly convened at noon.    An afternoon gathering called the Rally for Respect wrapped up the day's activities.  Although the NCAE said 30,000 people took part, the Downtown Raleigh Alliance estimated the crowd at about 19,000.  In either case, it was the largest act of organized teacher political action in state history.

At one point, chanting from the teachers drowned out the legislative business, but Tim Moore of Shelby, the Speaker of the NC House, said from the floor "We would just like to collectively recognize and thank all the teachers from around the state who traveled to be with us."

The General Assembly's biennial budget calls for a 6.2% raise for teachers next year, but the state still lags far behind the national average pay and behind some other states in the Southeast.  But the Wednesday event, called the  "March for Students and Rally for Respect" wasn't just about pay.

Lincoln County NCAE president Dana Avery told the Lincoln Herald: "This day is not just about salary. These are teachers who love the children they teach and want the absolute best for them. Our children DESERVE every opportunity that we can give them. There should be proper funding for materials, technology, safe buildings, smaller class size, the hiring of new teachers, and assistants. All of these things are for the children. Teachers became teachers to make a difference in children’s lives. We just want and need the ability to do that. Schools must have adequate funding."

The teachers who made the trip on Wednesday will be back in their classrooms on Thursday--hoping that their demonstration has delivered their message to the members of the General Assembly.

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