RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- With one week left before North Carolina teachers march in downtown Raleigh, the state teachers union has laid out its five demands for state lawmakers.
NCAE 'DAY OF ACTION' GOALS
- More support staff
- Medicaid expansion
- $15 minimum wage
- Reinstate retirement health benefits
- Restore advanced degree compensation
Reaction from Republican leaders on Jones Street did not suggest the teacher's demands will be met kindly.
"I think that our voices matter and we have to pull together," said Amy Bryan, a Wake County kindergarten teacher.
She was part of Thursday's NCAE news conference on the steps of the union's headquarters. It was a river of red, ahead of what it hopes will be a sea of red on the streets of downtown Raleigh next Wednesday.
And they'd prefer it not just be known as a teachers rally. They say one of the biggest parts of their fight is to get more state dollars for school support staff that teachers rely on to keep their focus on the classroom.
"We need social workers, counselors, we need all those nurses and librarians in our schools to make sure our children have what they deserve. And we don't! And that is a problem," said NCAE Vice-President Kristy Moore.
It wasn't just veteran teachers at the news conference, there were brand new ones like Megan Wing, who is concerned about the long-term implications of their career choice. She wants retiree health benefits restored for teachers who start after 2021.
"Even though we are young, we are certainly aware of our need to plan for retirement," Wing said. "And if these benefits are cut, the future teachers will either change careers or look to teach in other states."
Last year's rally resulted in 42 of the state's 115 school districts canceling classes because of a shortage of substitutes to cover staffers taking personal days.
And while every Triangle district plus Cumberland County is canceling class this year for teachers, many smaller districts are in a bind.
On Thursday, Lee County, Granville and Alamance-Burlington school systems told ABC11 they will be open May 1.
At the General Assembly, the Senate's top Republican pushed back Wednesday, arguing North Carolina teachers were awarded the third-highest pay raise in the nation over the last five years.
"The far-left NCAE has changed the goalposts year after year," Phil Berger said in a statement.
He said the teachers union is "trying to mislead the public into thinking Republicans are bad for education."
Bryan, the Wake kindergarten teacher, seemed undeterred.
"We do our best work when we're doing what's best for children," she said. "And we need people who are making legislative choices for us who have actually been in a classroom."