'Save our Schools' rally against class size mandate

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More than one hundred people spent part of their Saturday at a rally against the class size mandate for elementary school students enrolled in kindergarten through third grade. (WTVD)

More than one hundred people spent part of their Saturday at a rally against the class size mandate for elementary school students enrolled in kindergarten through third grade.

"Our school is not overcrowded," Wake County parent Holly Alberts said, "yet we're being told that children have to leave our school in order to fit this mandate."

Fired up parents, teachers and advocates for public education were bundled up while holding a variety of signs with messages criticizing the mandate. Sarah McDade's sign read "My son is being kicked out of his school because of #classsizechaos."

"We have a lot of kids that walk to school and now we're gonna be reassigned because 77 kids at Abbot's Creek cannot stay for next school year," McCade said.

The mandate opponents say reducing class sizes will require the hiring of more K-3 teachers, but at the expense of current art, physical education, and music teacher salaries.

"We're very concerned," said arts educator Gussie Marshallsea. "This is an important part of the children's curriculum..and it's an area in which children can succeed and do well."

Several speakers addressed the shivering crowd, including Dr. Jennifer Mangrum, a UNC-Greensboro associate professor who taught elementary school for 14 years. She and others urged concerned people to contact their elected representatives after the rally.

"This is important because when we state publicly that a mandate like this one is ineffective, or even harmful to our children, and we speak it collectively, we can make a change," Mangrum said.

Mandate opponents also urged the crowd to use social media to amplify their message, with a tweetstorm using #ClassSizeChaos planned for Tuesday between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

On Wednesday, many will return to Raleigh for conversations with lawmakers when the General Assembly reconvenes.

"But we're hoping to put the heat on them," Holly Alberts said," so that way they get to work for us!"

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