Some parents pushing back against another class-canceling NC teacher rally

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ByJoel Brown via WTVD logo
Saturday, March 30, 2019
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The teachers union said it hopes this year's teacher rally is even bigger, but, they are hearing pushback.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- What happened on the streets of downtown Raleigh last spring was historic -- thousands of teachers calling out from work marching for what they believe. All while over a million students had to stay home from school that day.

One year later, a teachers' organization is telling ABC11 it hopes this year's rally is even bigger, but, they are hearing pushback.

"The teachers are there for the children. So, if the teachers aren't there, the kids lose," said Arnette McNamara.

McNamara raised three children in the Triangle, put two of them through Wake County Public Schools, and was a devoted school volunteer and PTA worker. But McNamara insists teachers should not call out of work May 1 to march on Raleigh for the second year in a row.

"Our problem in our whole country, not just in Wake County or North Carolina, is that we're not showing results with the money we have."

McNamara blames a broken system for education funding that fails to trickle down to teachers and classrooms. But, she feels students and parents shouldn't be forced to suffer from a lost day of class time and the burden for parents forced to find emergency childcare.

Those points were echoed by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson, who in a statement this week, urged against another school-day teacher rally.

"We support teachers and are championing the changes our education system needs, but I cannot support protests that force schools to close," Johnson said.

NC Association of Educators President Mark Jewell is defending the rally as a necessity to stop what he calls the "starvation" of state education funding at the General Assembly.

"We have been chronically under-resourced since the 2013 tax breaks for corporations and millionaires," Jewell said.

The organization is demanding more money for school librarians, psychologists, and nurses, along with a $15 minimum wage for all school personnel, and the restoration of extra pay for teachers with advanced degrees.

ABC11 asked Jewell, why not rally on a day classes aren't in session?

"The General Assembly sets the schedule," he said. "(State legislators) work pretty much Monday evening through Thursday. We're in a sense of urgency to fund our public schools... and we plan to show up and let them know that we're watching and that they have a job to do."

Jewell says some teacher groups across the state have already started presenting resolutions to their local school boards calling on them to cancel classes on May 1, with a positive reaction.

"They are trying to stand up for something they believe in, and I get that," McNamara said. "But, you have to do it on your own time."