In that one amendment is:
- Separation of state and religion,
- Freedom of speech,
- Right to assemble peaceably,
- Petitioning the Government.
Those rights were exercised on May 16th, 2018 and May 1, 2019 in Raleigh when thousands of teachers and school employees and advocates marched and rallied for public education in North Carolina. Yet North Carolina still has a General Assembly which is supposed to uphold the tenets of the constitution filled with lawmakers decrying the assembly of teachers on important issues.
And those people who assembled on those two May days at those marches and rallies were really quite peaceful.
There have been rumors of school administrators and local school board members who have told teachers to not speak out on school reopening plans or engage in the debates over what reopening should look like. Whether those are isolated incidents or widespread, the fact that many teachers might feel discouraged from speaking out on school safety is antithetical to one of the most important duties we as educators have: to advocate for students and students.
Many of use teachers are speaking out against a NC General Assembly that has for all intents and purposes been intact for the last decade.
This is the same General Assembly that took away due-process rights from new teachers in 2014. That effectively instilled a fear of reprisal in newer teachers who may need to advocate for students and schools.
This is the same General Assembly that had a voter ID law declared unconstitutional because it targeted minorities and those in poverty in a state that is considered one of the most gerrymandered in the country.
Gerrymandering on the scale that was used these past few years and limiting those who can exercise right to vote is really akin to squashing people’s First Amendment rights, rights that include free speech.
Or rather free speech in a peaceful assembly to petition the state government to fully fund public schools as stipulated by the state constitution so that they can operate safely.
It is less than four months until November 3rd when the polls open for elections. Lots of offices on local, state, and national levels will be decided.
That same Constitution that guarantees free specch also guarantees the right to vote.
Even if it comes through the mail.