North Carolina Teachers Are Taking to the Streets. Here's What They're Demanding

North Carolina Teachers Are Taking to the Streets. Here's What They're Demanding

"I teach in a classroom that is an outside room - smaller than all the other rooms on campus", Burford said.

Some of the impetus and expectations for the opening-day rally likely were drawn from similar teacher protest rallies in Arizona, Kentucky, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

Echoing the frustration of teachers who have walked out in other states, the group has also called for a moratorium on new corporate tax cuts until teachers are earning the national average. "Public education is the economy in North Carolina".

Organizers expected up to 20,000 teachers and supporters to press the Republican-dominated legislature for more spending as the legislative session started.

A North Carolina kindergarten teacher Kristin Beller, who has a side job as a tutor, told NBC News, "We have suffered through a decade of cuts, so this will be a sign of strength, a sign of power, a sign that North Carolina fully believes in public schools".

Tracy Brumble, a teacher at Milbrook Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh, was with about a dozen fellow teachers at the school waiting for a bus to carry them to the march's starting point.

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"According to the NEA, North Carolina Ranked #2 in the USA for fastest rising teacher pay in 2017", Republican Senator Phil Berger, president pro tempore, said in a comment on Twitter posted during the march. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, which looked at the percent change in K-12 funding from 2008 to 2015, adjusting for inflation, found that total state funding per student in North Carolina fell 12.2 percent since 2008.

According to the National Education Association, the average starting salary for teachers during the 2016 - 2017 school year, in North Carolina is about $37,514.

Personally Myers has made choices about paying student loans or buying poster board for a student's class project.

North Carolina teachers are calling for higher pay. At least 38 districts, representing more than half the state's 1.5 million public school students, canceled classes because of the protest.

Wednesday's rally is part of a national trend.

"We need to have sufficient resources for these babies".

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"We are now about $2,400 below the national average in how we fund our public school children", Jewell said at a news conference in Raleigh earlier this week. "Unless we make a lot of noise, our representatives, the people in that building aren't going to listen to us, they are going to keep doing what they've been doing all along".

However, Conrad stressed that Republican legislators are not going to "shut down charter schools and do away with the opportunity scholarships" that pay a portion of the tuition for low-income students to attend a charter, religious or private school.

Carolynn Phillips, a middle school arts teacher from coastal Brunswick County who was named the county's Teacher of the Year for 2018, called the protest a cry for respect from teachers whose pay ranks toward the bottom of US states. "It's the children, and we have to have a heart for our children", he said.

He said one of his own concerns is the school building, which he said was built in 1954 and needs many repairs.

But with the Great Recession in the past and the state's financial stability restored, teachers say it's time to catch up on deferred school spending.

Republican legislators have focused on increasing pay based on merit, rather than treating all teachers as if they were equally productive, he said.

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Amy Buchen, a first-grade educator at Brassfield Elementary School in Raleigh, says she was amazed by the huge community that formed in the wake of this morning's protests.

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