NC teachers lobby for better pay, classroom spending

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Teacher pay and per-student spending are major concerns.

North Carolina teachers and their advocates spent part of National Teacher Appreciation Week lobbying lawmakers.

The NCAE is calling on lawmakers to increase per pupil spending in the upcoming budget. The association says that last year, North Carolina was ranked 42nd and now the state has dropped to 43rd in per-student spending.

North Carolina spends about $9,000 per student, which is roughly $2,000 less than the national average.

"This is unacceptable and quite frankly, it's embarrassing," said NCAE President Mark Jewell. "We continue to lose ground as compared to the rest of the country on making critical investments for our students."

Rahnesia Best teaches fourth grade in Apex. She often feels she's making up the difference in state funding. She has receipts showing how much she has spent this year.

"$1,200 and I'm a year-round teacher and I'm not done," she said. "My school year ends at the end of June and we start two weeks later. So it's like a never ending track of just spending, spending, spending."

Best wishes she could provide more to her own son and explains it's a balancing act teaching children in this state.

"I'm trying to give them the best education possible without spending all my money, she said.

Best and other teachers met with lawmakers and demanded actions.

The group met with Rep. Cynthia Ball, who has been touring schools in her Wake County district. Ball says textbook funding needs to be ramped up.

The NCAE report $71 million is being allocated for this school year, while $100 million was given in 2008.

"Pre-recession ... our expenditure was much better. We have not recovered to that level," Ball said.

Teachers say they would welcome any increase and it would the best gift they could receive during this National Teacher Appreciation Week. Otherwise, they'll keep up the fight.

"It's exhausting, but we can't just stop. I have to keep talking with legislators, emailing, calling, letters," Best said.

The group also was lobbying lawmakers to increase pay for specialty teachers, such as art, music and physical education.

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