When North Carolina educators gather in Raleigh this Wednesday for a rally sponsored by the NCAE (North Carolina Association of Educators) and two other organizations (Red4EdNC & North Carolina Teachers United), they'll face opposition from Civitas, the conservative public policy organization headquartered in Raleigh founded by Art Pope in 2005.
While Civitas claims to be non-partisan, it's easy to see that their stance on all issues sides with the Republican Party. They're about as non-partisan as Lincoln County School Board races, which are officially non-partisan, but in truth both the Democrats and the Republicans back the candidates who are members of their parties.
Calling the May 1st event a "teacher strike," Civitas Institute President Donald Bryson added, "This strike, or demonstration, is not about children and schools. It is about the NCAE claiming political power, and finding ways to funnel taxpayer money to adults, not children.”
The NCAE listed five objectives of this year's march:
- Provide enough school librarians, psychologists, social workers, counselors, nurses, and other health professionals to meet national professional-to-student standards.
- Provide a $15 minimum wage for all school personnel, a 5% raise for all non-certified staff, teachers, administrators, and a 5% cost-of-living adjustment for retirees.
- Expand Medicaid.
- Reinstate state retiree health benefits eliminated by the General Assembly in 2017.
- Restore advanced degree compensation stripped by the General Assembly in 2013.
33 school districts and five charter schools from across the state called off classes for Wednesday, lacking enough subsitutes to take the place of teachers who took personal days to attend the event. While Lincoln County, Gaston County, Catawba County and Cleveland County schools did not cancel classes, Hickory City Schools, Mooresville, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools did.
While there were editorials in newspapers and online across the state offering opposing viewpoints on the Wednesday event, Civitas decided to take the fight further. They founded NCTeacherFreedom.com--seeking to get teachers to leave the NCAE--and arranged for a mobile billboard that will drive throughout downtown Raleigh for the entirety of Wednesday's march, urging teachers to cancel their NCAE and NEA (Natl. Education Association) memberships.
Our local Lincolnton newspaper didn't create its own editorial (they seldom do) but instead offered a mixed opinion piece from a Wilmington, NC, newspaper.
We believe the objectives raised by the NCAE are valid ones, and while they may not get everything for which they're asking, the presence of thousands of teachers in Raleigh should serve (again) as a notice to the General Assembly that while they are not a union, and Wednesday's march is not a strike, teachers joining together and also adding the support of their families and friends is something to be considered very seriously at election time.
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