What's next for Red for Ed after thousands rallied in Raleigh?

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Thousands descended on downtown Raleigh Wednesday, for the second year in a row, rallying for education funding from the General Assembly.

But hours later, some lawmakers are making a push to make sure a rally like this never happens again.

"It was a gigantic success. By any estimation, the crowd size was enormous again this year," said NC Association of Educators President Mark Jewell in an interview with ABC11 in the hours after the rally. "(Teachers) were just leaving so gratified for being able to get together on behalf of public education and bring these issues to the fold."

Jewell said Raleigh Police estimated the crowd was at least as large as last year -- 19,000 strong, filled with teachers, support staffers, parents and students even some school administrators.

And the State Superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction, Mark Johnson, was there too. He told ABC11 he supports the teacher's cause, but, he can't support closing schools to rally.

"I could not support the organizers of this protest," Johnson said. "This is not about teachers, this is about the organizers. I could not support them choosing May 1, a day that causes schools to close because it has such a ripple effect in our community."

In a new effort to block future rallies, Republicans in the state house added a budget item to their new spending plan that changes the law so that local school districts could not cancel classes for anything other than weather emergencies or other crises specifically laid out in the bill.

"(This is directed) right at us and trying to silence our voices," Jewell said. "And we're saying our voices won't be silenced. "Any of those types of attempts, we will just come anyways. We're going to come and do what we need to advocate for and on behalf of our students."

Jewell said he and the teachers are not ruling out future marches and rallies, even if the law changes.

In fact, he said depending on how much or how little the state's new budget reflects educators' demands, Jewell said they could be returning to the General Assembly as soon as June or July.
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