Teachers air grievances, call demonstration an 'uprising'

Wednesday, May 9, 2018
Teachers call the demonstrations an uprising
EMBED <>More Videos

School and PTA leaders are echoing the importance of public schools to a community.

RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) -- More than 10,000 people are expected to show up to the General Assembly May 16 and fight for more funding.

"They are starving our school districts," said North Carolina Association of Educators President Mark Jewell. "Public education is the economy. It's for everyone. It's the one thing that in society every facet benefits from, and we're not doing a very good job of it."

NCAE has called the May 16 demonstration "an uprising" after so much has been stripped away from education during the years.

"If it were a business, it would be shut down," said Jewell.

Pay is a point of contention; not only what they make, but what could be taken out.

"Really, public schools are the heart of our community," said Julie von Haefen, president of the Wake County PTA Council. "Whether it's here in Raleigh, or Wake County and across the state, it's the great equalizer for all our kids and the PTA especially is a huge proponent of public schools."

Von Haefen said it really boils down to every child getting the opportunity and support they deserve.

"Our motto as PTA is to speak with one voice for every child, and so when I think of public school, I think it is for every child and every child has the opportunity to go to a public school and to feel that they're getting full support that our schools have to offer," she said.

Teachers have been paying out-of-pocket for textbooks, pencils, and paper.

Some are resorting to GoFundMe pages to meet the needs.

One North Carolina wrote on her page, "I have no funds or resources to fill our classrooms."

When teachers take a personal day, for instance, to attend their child's graduation, they are docked $50.

"They have to pay for it. They have to pay for their own sub and that's unheard of in most states," said Jewell.

ABC11 is learning that principals are making tough decisions with their working budget.

"Whether or not to pay a light bill or to buy toilet paper," Jewell said.

The association said the state has taken away master degree pay, longevity pay, and due process rights.

Health care premiums went up recently. Some employees saw a drastic hike.

"Two-hundred percent," said Jewell. "So when teachers did get a little bit of a raise last year, it was taken away in their health insurance."

House Speaker Tim Moore said on National Teacher Appreciation Day, "When we peel back the political rhetoric on teacher pay, the facts indicate North Carolina educators received considerable gains in compensation for the incredible work they do in our schools."

Moore says there will be a fifth consecutive pay raise in 2018 and he noted that 47 percent of the state's budget goes to teachers and higher education staff salary.

Moore said there are bonus programs and compensation incentives for teachers, which includes Supplement for Highly Qualified Graduates and Third-Grade Reading Bonuses.

Senate Leader Phil Berger has sounded off about the planned massive demonstration.

Several districts are closing since so many teachers asked off.

Berger has warned that 'teacher strikes are illegal" and the rally is looking more like a "work slow down" that's jeopardizing a "critical time for students."

"Nothing's illegal about this. This is all done within the confines of public education law," said Jewell. "We're fighting for the bigger goal of making their education and their quality of education better in North Carolina. It's a sacrifice of one day."

Von Haefen said the PTA has been getting a lot of questions about how parents can support teachers in their efforts.

"I know for some parents, it's an inconvenience, but really in general, I've heard really strong support for teachers that this is something they understand they need to do and it's important," she said. "I think anytime whether it's parents, teachers, community members make their voices heard in this way and the mass amount of teachers I've heard are coming to Raleigh next week, I don't think there's anything bad about that."