make WWAY your homepage  Become a fan on facebook  Follow us on twitter  Receive RSS Newsfeeds  MEMBERS: Register | Login

FIRST ON 3: New Hanover Co. School District bans teachers from wearing 'Red for Ed' t-shirts


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Teachers in New Hanover County and elsewhere have been protesting education cuts and teacher pay by wearing red T-shirts to show their support for education.

Now the New Hanover County School Board is the one seeing red and putting an end to it.  

The district says teachers can no longer wear their "Red for Ed" shirts.

"We can wear red, but we can't wear it if it says 'Red for Ed,' because that is a political statement," teacher Lucas McLawhorn said.

Two district policies that address staff participation in political activities and political activities on school property have been in place for years.

"There is no intent on the part of the board to quash a teacher's right or any employee right to express their concern and dissatisfaction," school board member Edward Higgins said. "It's just a matter of where and when."

The school board says that place is not the classroom.

Higgins says in some cases teachers have used the shirts as a platform to express their frustrations to students, but teachers say their message is anything but political.    

"We are losing good teachers, and once again a student who has a teacher that doesn't care, who is not invested, what are they going to learn?" McLawhorn said.
Higgins says the board has just as many questions about the legislature's education reforms as teachers do.

"We don't know where the idea came from. We don't know how it's supported, how it's justified," Higgins said.

State Rep. Ted Davis (R-19th District) says he is learning through forums, like one at UNCW last night, how the legislature's decisions affect local educators.

"It helps me be able to have a better understanding, so I can go to Raleigh and hopefully rectify some of those situation," Davis said.

The school district also asked principals to make sure the staff does not use the e-mail system, school websites or any other district form of communication to promote their message.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


Wear Red for Ed

I read with interest, your posting of this article. I would also invite you to do a follow-up on this story - and quickly - as the New Hanover County School Board has reversed their decision. For further clarification, please contact:

I am a 35-year veteran teacher, with a Master's Degree and National Board Certification. I am proud of the profession I chose, and in which I am heavily invested and trained. I am also an active member of North Carolina Association of Educators for the same reason - pride in my profession.
While there is much concern regarding the current status of public school education, both nationally and locally, and by all political and non-political segments of our population, recent legislation in the state of North Carolina has been decidedly and intentionally enacted against the welfare of children, families, educators and supporters of public education. Many of these decisions are being challenged, and supporters of public education are engaged in many activities toward their reversal. Wearing "Red for Ed" is only one of those activities, and is shared by many more than just teachers.
It is important to remember that challenging unpopular legislation is not unique to 'only educators,' but rather all segments of our population and is a Democratic right and responsibility of our citizenry to do so.
I ask that, before vilifying teachers for standing up for their professional rights and full and appropriate funding for public education, we consider why and honor the efforts of a profession which prepares our citizens for our future.

I am always sad to read the

I am always sad to read the comments attached to these stories. There are so many sad, angry people on here who seem to think that the privilege granted to them in their normal lives gives agency to their making snide, factually incorrect statements online. Let's deal with these point-by-embarrassing-point. First, teachers do not have summers off. Teachers are paid on nine or ten month contracts. So, please stop arguing that paid for summer vacation; it's not true. You are either lying or desperately wrong. Teachers have a right to work or not work in the summer. Either way, it's none of your business because they are not paid for that time. Second, teachers make more than the average salary in the state because they have better educations and training than at least 70 percent of people in this state. That's right, only 32 percent of North Carolinians have a college education. Teachers are paid what the market dictates. So you may no longer claim that they are overpaid. In fact, a comparative analysis of the teaching market suggests they are underpaid relative to 40 or more states in this country. Third, teachers do not work for you. You are a small, minority stakeholder in the classroom. Have a problem? Get in line behind the thousands of other people who pay property taxes in your school district. Teachers are responsible for your child's education and well being, but they are not your employees. Why say this way anyway? Are you so sad because your own life turned out badly that you need to attack a teacher? Are you so powerful and successful that you think this agency translates into the school system? Or, are you just the guy in line yelling at the cashier about the cost of vegetables? Either way, it does not empower you to state that teachers work for you. Finally, please stop lambasting teachers over professional dress, while out of the other side of your mouth you argue to freeze their minute salaries. People shop at Kohls when they can't afford Bannana Republic. Also, the "not your employee" issue is also relevant. They do not work for you. They are not your employee. There are thousands of other individuals who pay into the system, and you are only one. This raging stupidity is the equivalent of me asking why Northeast Utilities does not consult me on business practices despite my ownership of stock in the company. The answer is obvious, they work for many, many other stakeholders, customers, plus a board of directors. So do teachers. I get that we live in a rough economy, and you're mad. You work hard, and yet, are somehow so blinded by sociopathy that many of you fail to see that others do to and that you have no authority to tell them what to expect. This is not your dinner table. You may not take that tone.

a teacher's response

I have been teaching for over 15 years and have two masters' degrees, national board certification, and have a year into a doctorate degree in education to enhance my own pedagogy. In 15 years, there has never been a time when I haven't taken classes or conducted relevant research to better instruction and learning for my students, other people's children. This means I work about 18 hours every day of every week (Sat and Sun included) to make ends meet. I am good at what I do and enjoy helping my students develop a love for learning. However; I cannot support my own children or make my mortgage payments on a modest house without a second income. I have not bought new clothes in 15 years unless you count the thrift shop purchases I must make. I am now being told that I will not receive the extra pay that was promised when I finish my doctorate degree. How will I ever pay off my school loans? I realize this is a 'right to work' state, and understand strikes and signs are unlawful. So what can I do to express my frustration....wear a red shirt once a week? Oh wait, can't do that either. To top it off, some of the parents of the children I try to motivate and engage every day are now INSULTING teachers. I am truly scared for the future of NCPS, especially for my own children. This is truly a depressing time for NC public school students and teachers alike.

The only Amendment that matters here is the second one

The teachers did it wrong. They should have announced they were carrying red guns in protest. That would have been OK, because these gun-loving right wingers love the guns almost as they love only one amendment of the Constitution.

And people wonder why we're a national laughingstock...

If you don't like policies,

If you don't like policies, then quit. Nobody is holdibg a gun to your head to stay. Plus, you chose to teach. Find another job. You knew what you were getting into.


You just gotta love a person who hates public schools or the thought of a teacher standing up for themselves making a comment such as yours. You are the reason why North Carolina consistently ranks at the bottom when it comes to Public Education. Keep is Southern and keep it slow, right?

public education

knew what they were getting into? no one knew that salaries would freeze when they began teaching. clearly, teachers aren't in it for the money, but many have been forced to quit & find a job that can support their children.


Once upon a time we had what was called academic freedom. This meant we could teach with the content and style we desired as long as it met with the standard course of study.

Suddenly, that academic freedom is slowly being eroded away and we're being told what to teach and how to teach it. This is quite unsettling. You see, it has happened a few times within the last 100 years. Most notably, Russia in 1917, Germany in 1932 and China 1949.

Would you rather those of us who are protesting not and just do as we are directed, like those teachers were forced to in those circumstances? If so, then you really do not support the Constitution of the United States.

Wow, "trash," thank you SO

Wow, "trash," thank you SO MUCH for simplifying that whole issue for me! See, I've been operating under the delusion that my master's in education makes me most qualified to teach, which is what I do. But gosh, you've opened my eyes to the simple fact that I can quit and do something else. You know what? I stayed at a Holiday Inn once; maybe I will be a doctor instead. I'm sure surgery is as "easy" as teaching, right? Or, in this booming economy, I can find another job in a dozen industries in a heartbeat. I mean, really...why should we stupid teachers think that the policies and laws that were in place when we were hired (almost 20 years ago) would hold up to the onslaught of the GOP war on public education? I feel so silly now. P.S. (Since you're obviously not very bright) the above is sarcasm.

email the board

This response to this news items is great! Please take it a step further by emailing the members of the school board---it's important for them to hear from all concerned members of our community. let's hope that our support for our teaches lifts their spirits: knowing they are supported by the citizens of our community is important!

Confused Leadership!

I understand our public school systems are under the domination of the right wing. We were dumb enough to let it happen and we can see and feel the results. Devaluing the public schools and the teaching profession are long standing Republican goals. Nothing new here!!
What I don't understand is why are individual school administrators and system administrators accepting this position? If you believe in and are passionate about your profession then as an education administrator your job is to support not reject your employees. Teachers all across NC must feel very alone in their profession when the very people they work for will not go to Raleigh and demand value for the teaching profession.
I am not a teacher, far from one, but I very much appreciate all the teachers in my life. I realize there is a lot of conflict about how teachers can reach their professional goals and also protect their students. The only way I see a valuable solution is to take the position that Raleigh can't fire everybody. Strike and Strike QUICKLY!!


I wish would could strike, however we could go to jail and lose our jobs for it. I would like to see NCAE challenge the right to work law, sue for collective bargaining rights, and then organize a statewide strike. Only then will our voices truly be heard!

I support the teachers.

I support the teachers getting a pay raise, as well as increasing spending for education here in NC.

However, the classroom is not the place for the teachers to politic for the cause.

I wouldn't want the teachers of my children campaigning for those seeking political office. Imagine if a teacher wore a t shirt supporting a particular candidate for president??

This is no different.

red for ed

North Carolina just continues to give the late night talk show hosts and Stephen Colbert more things to discuss.....and ridicule about this state.

It is not uncommon for the

It is not uncommon for the faculty and staff of a school to have a dress code that is more strict than the students' dress code. Regardless, if the rules prohibit it for the faculty and staff then they should not be allowed to wear them.

You know its sad when 5

You know its sad when 5 teachers from the same school work part-time in the same department store, AFTER school. PITIFUL!! I am so sorry to say this, but I would highly discourage ALL college students NOT to ever entertain the idea of becoming a teacher! As a matter of fact, I refused to pay for my daughter's college education if she planned to pursue a teaching degree...fortunately, she was wise and chose the health care profession.


Let me get this straight.
Teachers can't wear red t- shirts and get paid a paltry salary.
If you're a secretary and take your clothes completely OFF for your boss you can make $75K a year and be promoted without being muzzled?

Yeah that sounds like our school system for yah......


The origin is easily found

Higgins says he doesn't know where the "Red for Ed" idea came from, yet a quick search shows the origins:

The writer clearly indicates that the idea is non-partisan and is used to promote public education.

Are there individual teachers who may take it too far? Probably. I haven't heard of any (yes, I'm a teacher), though. However, that would be an issue for a principal to handle on a case-by-case basis.

There are 100 counties in NC. So far, New Hanover is the only one with this edict.

Maybe you should read it again

Read this portion again:
Higgins says the board has just as many questions about the legislature's education reforms as teachers do.

"We don't know where the idea came from. We don't know how it's supported, how it's justified," Higgins said.

His comment was in reference to the qualifying statement preceding it. Higgins is referring to the reforms by the legislature when he says he "doesn't know where the idea came from". It is not a reference to the "Red for Ed" movement.

As for New Hanover being the only county with this edict. I am sure there are several systems with policies regarding politics with regard to teachers on the books. In fact, a couple of the systems I worked for had them. New Hanover just seems to be the only one enforcing it.

As far as I am concerned, I applaud their decision. The classroom should be apolitical. Period. End of sentence. No matter which side to the political spectrum you are from, you should want no political influence taking place in the classroom. If you allow political influence to occur on one side, it has to occur on all. Frankly, I want children to be educated not indoctrinated.

Trying to frame this issue as not being political is disingenuous. It is political, there is no way around that fact. Even though I agree that the teachers are being dumped on by the state government, I can't get behind political activism in the classroom.

I saw the piece on the news,

I saw the piece on the news, and the video version seems to indicate Higgins was referring to the "Red for Ed" movement versus not knowing what motivated the state legislature to pass the measures it did that affected education.

It didn't really come across so well in the article above.

While many school systems have rules about politics in the classrooms -- which I do see as being fine -- it doesn't say you cannot discuss them at all. You just have to present both sides.

Almost anything could be deemed political, but if you take time to read the "Red for Ed" website, you will see the teacher who came up with the idea did it because she wanted to support her chosen career. Since both parties are in favor of public education, it really isn't partisan to show unity and support for each other during a difficult season in education.

Now, if there are teachers who are disparaging the government to students, that is too far, but I've not heard of that. And if I were a kindergarten teacher, I'd go no further than to say, "I wear red because I love my job!" and then only if asked.

Red for Ed is not all about

Red for Ed is not all about teacher salaries, it is about what is right for our children in the state of NC , the dollar amount the government spends per pupil for every public school student, the desire for teachers to get higher education degrees so they can grow and help students achieve the demands of the 21st century workforce. The need for smaller class sizes so students can have a more idividualized education and attention when needed. Teachers are not only fighting for their rights they are fighting for every student who enters a public institution.


You can't wear red. You can't control the thermostat in your room. You can't get a pay raise. You can't discipline a child. You can't teach about God. You can't grade in red. You can't go the restroom and leave your class unattended. You can't get a 30 minute lunch.

What can we do? Nothing. The legislators have control of us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

if you want to "teach about

if you want to "teach about god" in a public school classroom, you should not be teaching. keep your sky-daddy propaganda at home.


I don't want to teach about God. My point is I am not allowed to make that decision. Let me teach about Buddha. Or maybe Satan. How's that for sky daddy propaganda? What movie did you plagarize with that comment? Let me know when you come up with an original idea. It will probably coincide with our next pay raise........

Teachers should behave

Teachers should behave professionally, dress appropriately and teach the three Rs. Leave the disgruntled, oppressed worked crap for after hours or during their summer breaks.

I'm sure they'd love to have

I'm sure they'd love to have time after work and during summer breaks to handle "disgruntled, oppressed work crap" but unfortunately they are too busy working their SECOND JOB after work and during summer breaks!

government workers, teachers

government workers, teachers and leo's, knew it going into the job, they may earn a little less, but they have a secure paycheck with benefits and early retirements, if 1 of them tells me they will do a better job with a couple dollar raise then they are admitting they are not doing the job they signed on for and should be fired immediately, they get no sympathy from me, and bringing the kids into it is tacky at best!

Your Wrong

Guest 45, your wrong and bitter against teachers for some unknown reason, not with the best intentions for our youth. Teachers thought getting board certification or masters pay would increase their salaries BECAUSE THEY WERE TOLD IT WOULD but now that is being threatened to be pulled from them. Point is good teachers that were promised periodic raises or board cert or masters pay are not going to get it and are forced to leave to pursue new careers. If you were told you would get certain raises in pay and that was stripped you'd wear red too

Red for Ed

The New Hanover County School Board "forbidding" red shirts with a loosely associated slogan is another sign they are out of touch with their employees and why the union they think won't happen is so actively forming without their knowledge...lack of insight. For those criticizing, get a job or a life. How could anyone question giving more to those that see and lead our kids more hours a day than most of us see our own kids? Wouldn't a happy, motivated, appreciated teacher be better than an underpaid, disillusioned person than people on this thread are calling fat and lazy? Seriously people? Stop stroking your ego and pretending you are on a news channels debate panel while on your couch throwing darts from afar and realize good teachers are leaving because promises like board certification incentives and masters pay, which make better teachers will be gone.

25% Red

Maybe after the administration chooses the top 25 per cent of the teachers in the county, only the bottom 75% will wear red!

Teachers being fat? How does that stop someone from doing their job? Maybe Chris Christie is a bad governor because he is fat...nawww, its because he is a Republican.
I would rather surround myself with fat people rather than someone like the person who made that comment, which is UNPROFESSIONAL. Of course you would never pass judgement on another person because that wouldn't be Christian like would it? Perhaps teachers should only teach to skinny kids and not the fat ones, would that satisfy you? Who are you to judge others? What a pathetic uneducated fool you are. I am sorry your children have such a loser for a parent. YOU are the problem....not the teachers.