North Carolina is the next state in line to experience mass teacher protests. Encouraged by their educator colleagues in Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Arizona, thousands of teachers skipped class so that they could rally in Raleigh. The teachers converged at the state legislative building demanding better pay and benefits and increased spending for each student.
Unlike their counterparts in other states, this rally is limited to one day and teachers plan to return to school on Thursday. The long-term goal is to put the pressure on lawmakers as the November elections loom in the distance. North Carolina teachers have a reason to be upset, as their state is ranked 39th in the country in average teacher pay last year, according to the National Education Association (NEA). With an average salary of $49,970, the teachers have actually lost gains in recent years when the figure is adjusted for inflation.
The teachers arrived at the legislative building wearing red, the designated color this year as educator protests spread across the nation. Hundreds of schools were forced to close its doors for the day because so many teachers and administrators chose to use a personal day to attend the rally. Among those districts that were forced to close was the largest district in North Carolina, the Wake County Public School System. By the end of the day, it was believed that approximately one million students across the state missed school as a result of the school closures.
The educators presented a list of requests including increasing the number of service staff, increased investment in infrastructure, escalated spending per student, and additional funding for teacher pay that rewards educators for advanced degrees and tenure in the school system.