Hundreds Of NC Teachers Protest At State Capitol For Higher Pay
RALEIGH, NC - Money for public education was front and center as North Carolina legislators returned to Raleigh Wednesday.
Hundreds of teachers from across the state stepped out of the classroom and into a political fight for higher pay.
More than a hundred public educators, including CMS teacher Marybeth Kubinski, lined the walls of the House and Senate chambers during the opening session Wedensday afternoon.
"The money is there; it's all about priorities," said Kubinski.
North Carolina teacher pay ranks 46th in the nation. Garinger High School teacher James Ford, who is also North Carolina teacher of the year, says many educators can't make a living wage.
"With the level of education most of us have, we should be rewarded; we should be comfortable. We shouldn't be scrambling to make ends meet or qualifying for public assistance. That's unacceptable,"said Ford.
Fourth grade teacher Justin Ashley, who ranked first in the state for social studies, says he is considering leaving CMS for higher pay over the state line.
"We live in Waxhaw which is just South of Charlotte, and we can drive to a school in South Carolina and automatically get seven thousand dollars more," said Ashley.
Educators also want less standardized testing for students, smaller class sizes and more nurses and counselors at each school.
Governor Pat McCrory addressed some of their concerns in his budget proposal at a press conference Wednesday.
“Ensure that no state-funded teacher in North Carolina will make less than $35,000 over the next two years. In addition, an average of two percent raise," said McCrory.
"If you look at two percent, it's really only $2.70 a day. You can't even buy a gallon of milk for that," said Kubinski.
McCrory is also proposing raises for teaches who earn advanced degrees in the subjects they teach.
"We're not asking them to break the bank, but we also shouldn't be working for dirt cheap either," said Ford.
McCrory is expected to present his proposed budget with the teacher pay increases to the General Assembly Thursday.