Local teachers protest in Raleigh about budget cuts
A bus full of teachers talking about the upcoming school year, their families and their “babies” headed to Raleigh Monday to talk about what is really on their mind: the budget.
As the last Moral Monday of the legislative session, educators from Guilford and Forsyth counties joined teachers from across the state to take a stand for public education.
With signs reading “Vouchers = Theft” and “Hire me, America. NC doesn’t appreciate me,” the thoughts of educators on the recently passed state budget on the Halifax Mall were clear.
Elizabeth Foster, president of the Guilford County Association of Educators, said there are many things wrong with the budget but the worst part is not helping the children who need it most.
“Two thousand five hundred slots for the Pre-K program were cut,” Foster said. “Guilford County has always found a way to get the program to the students that need it even when the state sliced and diced their budget, but they’ve sliced and diced it until there’s nothing left.”
Megan Mayo, a teacher who began her career at Jamestown Middle School now teaches Spanish at Greeensboro College Middle College, agreed with Foster.
“The worst part is the complete disregard for the poor,” Mayo said. “There is no other way to get out of poverty than education.”
Mayo was also not a fan of the opportunity scholarship that will give families in need $4,200 to attend private schools.
“That’s not enough to fund a private school education,” she said. “Private schools don’t have to provide transportation, they don’t have to provide meals and that money stays with the private schools. It uses taxpayer money, public money, for private education.”
Amy Harrison, who teaches special education at Reedy Fork Elementary in northern Greensboro said that losing close to 4,000 teacher assistants is the biggest blow to her as an elementary school teacher.
“Teacher assistants are vital to our everyday schedule,” she said. “They work with kids that are behind other kids that are at or above grade level and those groups are often overlooked. That’s what we’ll miss the most and I think that is something we’re going to notice years down the road when our children get to high school and college.”
Although North Carolina is 46th in the country for teacher salaries, on track to slip even further, none of the teachers on the bus to Raleigh Monday mentioned the no salary increase as the worst part of the budget. According to the National Education Association, North Carolina teachers get paid $45,947 including retirement and benefits. Foster said the take home pay is closer to $30,000.
Guilford County Schools teachers receive a $4,656 supplement to their salary, one of the highest in the area.
Teachers in Randolph County receive an average supplement of $2,772; In Forsyth County, $4,268; and in Davidson, $2,502.
“The Legislature just needs to ask the same question we ask ourselves as an organization: Is what we’re doing best for children?” Foster said.