RALEIGH, NC - The recent wave of teacher activism sweeping through conservative, tax-cutting states is hitting North Carolina as educators greet returning state legislators with demands for better pay and school resources.
The North Carolina Association of Educators says some 20,000 teachers are in Raleigh as the Republican-dominated state legislature begins its annual session.
More than three dozen school districts have decided to close classrooms that day, meaning an unplanned day off for more than two-thirds of the state's 1.5 million public school students.
That includes several districts here in Eastern Carolina. Pitt County, Wilson County, Onslow County, Wayne County and Nash-Rocky Mount public schools are closed today.
They join some of the largest districts in the state that are closing, including Wake County, Durham County, Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Chapel Hill-Carrboro public schools.
The National Education Association reported last month that North Carolina teachers earn about $50,000 on average, ranking them 39th in the country last year. Planned raises this year would make five straight annual increases. But the NEA says that still represents more than a 9 percent slide in real income since 2009 due to inflation.
Governor Roy Cooper is expected to speak during Wednesday's rally.
The NCAE has said its ultimate goal is to elect more pro-public education leaders. On Monday, they listed a list of demands it wants met by legislators. It includes:
1. Per-Pupil Spending to the National Average in Four Years
2. A Multi-Year Professional Compensation and Benefits Plan for ALL Educators that includes:
-Ending Experienced Educator Pay Discrimination
-Average Teacher Pay to National Average in Four Years
-Significant and Livable Raises for ALL Public School Employees
-Restoring Advanced Degree Pay
-Restoring Longevity Pay
-Annual Cost-of-Living Increase
-Enhanced and Protected Health Insurance and Pension
-Ending Pay for Performance Based on Test Scores, Including for Administrators
-Reinstating Career Status
-Real Dedicated Planning Time and Lunch Time
3. Investing in the Health and Well-Being of our Students and Making Schools Safer including:
-At least 500 additional school nurses, social workers, and counselors this year
-Improve health options for our most vulnerable students by expanding Medicaid
-Fix Our Crumbling Schools and Large Class Sizes With a $1.9 Billion Statewide School Construction Bond
-No Corporate Tax Cuts Until Per-Pupil Spending and Teacher Pay Reach the National Average
You can read the full NCAE statement here.