For my students, devalued by McCrory, I refused to move
Teachers and students took the streets near the state capitol building in Raleigh in protest after Governor McCrory was unable to meet with concerned teachers, parents, and students over much needed reform to the state's public school system.
When despite a well-publicized request, our governor disrespected our profession by refusing to meet with leading educators in a civil dialogue about the well-being of our state’s children, I stood in protest.
I stood in protest of the neglect McCrory has continuously shown our children. Repeatedly refusing to address kids’ most urgent needs and returning, unbothered, to campaigning for another term in office, was an unconscionable reality to me – so I refused to move.
The protest and subsequent arrest of 14 protesters highlight Governor McCrory's ineptitude and negligence towards the state's educators and students who have shown tireless dedication to try and improve greater access to teaching resources and improve ways to benefit the well-being of North Carolina's students.
I’d spoken to the media about the suffering of thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of our students. I’d listed conditions of abject poverty and of continued loss of resources, stability and security in the daily lives of our youth.
Alongside many other professional educators in my state, I’d asked for an hour of the governor’s time and promised that we’d march on foot from our classrooms to his office to prove our dedication to meeting with him and working together in the interest of our students.
We did exactly as promised.
I sat down next to two girls. They were my students’ ages. At 16 and 17, they had just finished their sophomore and junior years in high school, and they could’ve been my students. I asked them if they felt they had everything they needed to learn in their schools. One of them laughed at the question, the other hung her head, shaking it softly in resignation.
They told me how they can’t study at home because there are no textbooks, and they don’t have wi-fi. They told me how their teachers point them to the public library, but how nobody seemed to understand they didn’t have reliable transportation.
That’s why I’d gotten arrested – because these kids didn’t belong here. Because they were only here for being poor and black in a state where their existence is only a subject of good fortune – not a guarantee, not a right. Their lives were being attacked, and they were being punished for believing what they’d been taught – that they didn’t matter, that they didn’t deserve. They had been given no chance to defend their lives, no chance to argue for the value of their lives.