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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Teachers, parents and education advocates are seeing red, literally, when it comes to the education budget.

It was a sea full of red at Wilmington’s Riverfront Park, where a rally sponsored by the North Carolina Association of Educators focused on telling legislators to get their facts straight about education spending.

“We need public school to be valued, we need the students of North Carolina to be valued, we need the teachers, educators, administrators of North Carolina to be valued,” Murray Middle School Teacher Pamela Smith said. “We need our teachers assistants to be valued, and our budget absolutely does not support that.”

Teachers say when you factor in inflation, the number of new students and the cost of living, an overall increase in education spending amounts to nothing.

“The average teacher won’t see any increase, and we’ll see a decrease,” said Kristina Mercier, a teacher at Roland-Grise Middle School. “The only increase we will see is in the number of students in our classrooms.”

Teachers say budget cuts mean fewer resources, the loss of more than 5,000 teachers and nearly 4,000 teacher assistants and an end to teacher tenure among other cuts. They say the way they are being treated shows legislators do not value their work.

“It’s not about the money,” Donna Sloan said. “Nobody went into it to be rich, but they can’t afford to keep working at this level of income.”

Sloan, who teaches at Holly Shelter Middle School, says many new teachers are forced to work extra jobs, and some even need Welfare just to get by.

“You should have an opportunity and be able to make a living for your family,” Sloan said. “That’s all we’re asking. We’re not asking to get rich.”

With the budget already completed, advocates say their focus now is to prepare for the future.

Many of protestors today targeted Sen. Thom Goolsby (R-9th District). We tried speaking with Goolsby, but he was in court and unable to do an interview. He pointed us to an article he wrote with his views. Click here to read what he has to say.

Comment on this Story

  • ConcerningtheFuture

    Some of the comments in response to the StarNews article are deeply saddening. I understand they are stemming from misunderstanding and at times, a simple lack of knowledge, but we should not be 1. shunning teachers’ willingness to speak up for what they believe is unconstitutional 2. asking that teachers leave our state if they want financial security (or 3. demonizing teachers by bringing up uneducated statistics and invalidated google searches). If you look at many of the teacher comments in this article, they are not only concerned with themselves… they are concerned for their students, peers and administrators. If we push teachers to other states, NC will be in even more trouble- an increase in crime, prejudice, welfare, etc.
    For an educational system to succeed, the workers need to feel rewarded and necessary, not easily replaceable and unappreciated.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his essay “Self Reliance,” wrote, “These are the voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into the world. Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs” (par. 6).

    In this same essay, he also cleverly stated, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”
    We want the people who stand up and question those who are destroying the true ideals of democracy for their own political or financial gain; therefore, we need the educated in this state- the teachers and their students. If we chase the critical thinking out of this state, scare the youth out of pursuing degrees in education and make current teachers weary or nervous about going back for higher degrees of education, this state will slide further into economic disaster- the poor will become poorer while the rich will feed off the continuing increase of small minds. This could push us to continue to make ill-advised and close-minded decisions about our society and environment. We need to understand history. We need to become more avid in the fields of science and math. We need to create bridges for the youth to understand societies from around the world…
    Education costs and political debauching of these funds is inevitable… as the population of NC, we need to be forward-thinking. We need to come together and demand a government who wants the general population to succeed.
    Teachers aren’t asking for more money… but they rightfully deserve to fight the last 6 or 7 years where all they’ve received are freezes and cuts. Yes, it’s upsetting that NC is so low on the nation’s pay scale… but we can’t allow our students (our future) to fall to that same number whether it’s regarding intelligence, success or opportunity in the above discussed fields.
    A North Carolinian

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