Pitt County teachers prepare for education rally

Pitt County teachers prepare for education rally

Classes have been canceled on May 16 for more than a third of North Carolina's public school students as districts have chose to close that day and let teachers attend a rally at the state capitol in Raleigh.

Thousands are expected on the first day of the General Assembly's session for the "March for Students and Rally for Respect", organized by the N.C. Association of Educators.

"Our number one priority in Pitt County Schools is student safety", Mildred Council, chair of the county's board of education, said in a release. Sufficient staffing is vital to ensuring the well being of students, she said. "This is a decision that we do not take lightly. At this point, we cannot provide quality instruction and there would be serious student safety concerns with that many teachers out of the schools", Superintendent Tim Markley stated.

In Wake County, the school board made a decision to cancel schools after 2,500 teachers asked for the day off. Pitt County Schools officials also said students will not have the make up the day as the schedule has extra time built into it.

In the coming days, the district will provide notification of any rescheduled testing, special events, field trips and any other activities planned for May 16.

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"With 367 folks planning to be out, it boils down to having the capacity to supervise the schools as needed", Johnson said. "Protesting is a right, but it can be just as effective during non-school hours". "North Carolina leads the nation in bringing teacher pay to a competitive level".

When North Carolina's poor teacher-pay ranking is raised, conservative lawmakers, pundits and policy analysts typically respond that payroll income goes further here considering the state's low cost of living, but Wiley told me that five of her fellow teachers have relocated to other states, including two who are now teaching in Houston.

North Carolina ranks 39 in teacher pay and 41 in per-pupil spending, according to latest analysis by the National Education Association in April.

Whether teachers commute to Raleigh to participate in person or take time off to show solidarity, Jewell said the strongest message will come in November, when educators "march to the ballot box".

"Students are suffering; our communities are suffering, and we need to make sure that our schools are well-funded, they're all staffed, and that we were attracting the best and the brightest to the profession", Piner said.

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