Teachers Walkout In North Carolina
Demanding more school funding and better wages, tens of thousands of North Carolina teachers march on the capitol
The year of the Teacher’s strike is spreading. The movement which started in Appalachia and moved west to Oklahoma, Arizona and Colorado has now come to one of the most anti-union states in the country, North Carolina.
On Wednesday, schools were closed across the state as tens of thousands of teachers descended on the state capital to demand a boost to school funding that would bring it in line with the national average; hundreds of additional health workers and counselors; pay raises across the board for public school employees — and no more corporate tax cuts until both per-student spending and teacher salaries reach the national average. The walkout, which was organized by the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE).
Unlike similar teachers strikes in the other states, North Carolina educators were back in the classroom on Thursday. This is because Governor Roy Cooper's proposed budget is largely in line with the NCAE’s demands.
The one-day walkout by teachers in North Carolina was especially rare since teachers unions are illegal in the state. The state even has a ban on collective bargaining, making it a misdemeanor to collectively bargain a public contract.
“North Carolina public school educators, parents, and our communities demand better for our students,” said NCAE President Mark Jewell. “These specific public education priorities will give every student an opportunity to succeed and help recruit and retain educators as we face a critical shortage in our classrooms and school buildings.”
According to NBC News, North Carolina has over 1,000 vacant teaching positions, while ranking just 37th in teachers pay. While some Republican legislators used this as a chance to call these hardworking teachers “union thugs,” who were hurting the kids that they teach, educators said that couldn’t be further from the truth. They said they were walking out because positions like teaching assistants had been cut from the budget, programs like art, music and physical education were no longer being offered, classes are becoming overcrowded and the state is changing the focus of classrooms to focus on high stakes testing.
While Wednesday’s walkout only went on for one day, future actions could happen if the state fails to adopt a budget that addresses these teachers concerns.