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.