One might sense that the current General Assembly is a little scared of us public school teachers and our supporters. Remember what happened on May 16th:
And they should be very concerned; aside from the Women’s March of 2017, that might have been the largest demonstration on the NCGA in history.
What had originally looked like an election year to simply resupply the NCGA with more ultra-conservatively minded demagoguery has now morphed into a debate about how our state government should serve citizens and fully fund our public schools.
That day in Raleigh, the Rally for Respect and March for Students helped to turn the focus of the elections coming in November to the right to a quality public education (explicitly defined by Section 15, Article 1 of the NC Constitution).
Remember, North Carolina has 100 counties (with 115 LEA’s), each with a public school system. According to the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the NC Dept. of Commerce, the public schools are at least the second-largest employers in almost 90 of them—and the largest employer, period, in over 60. That means teachers represent a base for most communities, the public school system. And we are strong in numbers.
Just look at that march and rally. Not a single time was there a word given to discourage what teachers and public educators were trying to support. There was a single purpose. Complete focus. And support from others.
Those running for the General Assembly in November knew that they were not fully funding public schools two years ago. They knew it when they took away due-process rights and career status from new teachers. They knew it when they froze pay scales and then offered “average” raises to cloud the truth. They knew it when they abolished the Teaching Fellows Program. They knew it when they took away graduate degree pay for newer teachers. They knew it when they allowed unregulated charter schools to take money earmarked for public schools. They knew it when they created Opportunity Grants. They knew it when they allowed for an “Innovative” School District to come to our state.
Considering the amount of counterproductive measures placed on our public schools today, the fact that we teachers and support personnel still educate and serve our kids to a high degree of effectiveness tells me that North Carolina’s teachers are still passionate and of merit. Teachers do not define themselves through partisan, political definitions; they define themselves by a duty to educate students and as a team of professionals working together, not individual contractors whose service is dictated by a yearly indenture.
And what a display of professionalism that was displayed that day because part of a teacher’s job is to advocate for students and schools.
Over 20K did it on May 16th just in Raleigh. Many more did in their hometowns.
And we all can advocate for our schools come November 6th by voting.