Working parents in NC scramble for childcare as teachers rally in Raleigh

by WorldTribune Staff, May 16, 2018

Thousands of North Carolina teachers on May 16 rallied in downtown Raleigh to press state lawmakers for increased funding for education.

Participants make their way towards the Legislative Building during a teacher’s rally at the General Assembly in Raleigh on May 16. / AP

The rally forced the closing of many of the state’s schools and left a number of parents scrambling to find childcare, reports said.

On May 14, North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) President Mark Jewell outlined what teachers are rallying for:

  • Per-pupil spending to the national average in four years.
  • 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.
  • 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.

“There is no question that the NCAE [North Carolina Association of Educators] is very closely aligned with the Democratic party in North Carolina,” said NC Senate leader Phil Berger. “Much of what we’re hearing is politically motivated.”

Meanwhile, WRAL reported on options for parents whose kids’ schools closed for the rally.

Raleigh parks department was to host day camps from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a cost of $30 for city residents and $45 for non-city residents. The YMCA of the Triangle also announced special day camps at locations across the Triangle at cost of $25 for the day, which runs from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Museums, including Kidzu in Chapel Hill and Marbles in downtown Raleigh, offered day-long events that included lunch.

There was also concern for children who rely on free school lunches.

“More than half of public school students in North Carolina qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches,” WRAL reported. “Many of the school districts that are closing are making plans to provide meals even though classes won’t be held. Wake County Public Schools is planning to provide meals at 34 schools, Durham at 16 and Chapel Hill-Carrboro at three.”

North Carolina ranks 37th in the nation in teacher pay, with an average salary of $51,214, and 39th in per pupil spending, according to the National Education Association. State lawmakers have increased teachers’ salaries for the past four years.

In an op-ed for State News Today, David W. Goetze noted that “Over the last few years, less than one in five high school graduates were able to score at or above the national average on the ACT according to data provided by NC DPI. This doesn’t happen because of a few bad teachers here and there. This is system failure at all levels down to each classroom teacher, and in reality, it is nothing new at all.”

Goetz continued: “As much as I rightly blame Democrats for their failure to keep teacher pay on par over the years when they held the reins of power in Raleigh, the failings of their policies go back far further and deeper than a few administrations or issues of mere compensation. It didn’t use to be this way, and the only real change is that the quality of the instruction and the standards expected to be met from it in K-12 and the university level have both declined to an alarming and unacceptable degree.”

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