NC Teachers, Parents Rally for Higher Pay and More Funding for Public Education
In a series of rallies over the weekend, teachers and parents in Greenville, Raleigh and Fayetteville called on the legislature to invest in public education and brought attention to the teachers who are leaving North Carolina for better opportunities. With most veteran teachers looking at another year with a paltry raise, many are feeling the pinch and working second jobs to make ends meet.
Stacy Eleczko began teaching in Wake County 13 years ago. Eleczko said feels at home in the classroom, but the money has put her in a pinch.
"I have to tutor often in the evenings instead of spending time with my husband," she said
The rally, organized by the group "Aim Higher Now," gave Rep. Graig Meyer, D-Orange, an opportunity to hear from local teachers and parents.
"Being an educator in this state is starting to feel more like a sentence than a choice," Eleczko said.
Participants called it unacceptable that North Carolina ranks 42nd in the nation for average teacher salaries.
"If you ask any parent what the most important part of having a strong classroom experience for your child - they will say it's a strong teacher," Meyer said.
The budget, approved by the House last month, includes a two to six percent raise for teachers and additional funding for textbooks. Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said the budget affirms the state's "commitment to our children's future."
But the group said it is not enough to keep high-quality teachers in North Carolina.
"Being underpaid is one thing, being undervalued is another," Eleczko said.
The group released balloons during the rally to represent the teachers who left the state and the profession as a result.