A sea of red floods Downtown Raleigh

Teacher rally demands change

Educators+and+supporters+take+on+the+capitol.
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A sea of red floods Downtown Raleigh

Educators and supporters take on the capitol.

Educators and supporters take on the capitol.

Staff Photo by Joy Tekotte

Educators and supporters take on the capitol.

Staff Photo by Joy Tekotte

Staff Photo by Joy Tekotte

Educators and supporters take on the capitol.

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Teachers mold our nation’s future leaders. Not only do they teach students necessary academics, but they teach important life lessons such as responsibility, social skills and time management.

These adults have the responsibility to shape young students’ minds, however, North Carolina’s teachers don’t always have the resources available to fully develop and prepare their students. This past May 1, teachers, students, parents and administrators marched in downtown Raleigh to raise awareness about teaching conditions.

“There’s lots of talk, lots of promises, lots of mention of change, but it’s all the same. North Carolina continues to go down in spending per child,” English teacher, Anthony Calabria said.

A large misunderstanding is that the teacher’s march is only for the passing of legislation to raise teacher pay.  In addition, educators are fighting for better conditions in classrooms. Increasing the number of teacher assistants, employing full-time nurses, and decreasing class size are all priorities.

Large classroom sizes have proven ineffective in the learning process. Classes at Wakefield are increasing more and more. Students have noticed the conditions also, as sitting in a room with large amounts of children, and only one instructor can be distracting.

There’s lots of talk, lots of promises, lots of mention of change, but it’s all the same”

— Calabria

“The thing about teachers pay is that it’s a balance. It’s a balance between paying teachers in order to keep people who have the professional experience in the classrooms, ” science teacher, Russell Williams said. “Along with that, it’s about recruiting new people into the profession. I haven’t seen so few student teachers coming out of school.”

WHS is also affected by the number of support staff (nurses, guidance counselors, cafeteria workers, etc.) available to us. The school nurse is only available on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Our school’s financial advisor is only on campus on Tuesdays. Access to these basic resources is limited due to budget cuts. Funding for supplies is also on the list of reasons teachers are marching. Students can’t get the information they need for college.

“Some community members say that [teachers] are hurting the kids by not coming to school,” Calabria said. “The kids are being hurt by the lack of qualified teachers, not us taking a day [off].”

According to an article on The News & Observer, North Carolina ranks 34 in teacher’s pay, in addition to our low percentile. On the same day as the demonstration, the North Carolina legislature passed a mandate to stop allowing school systems to close unless it’s weather-related. While it appears to only affect weather, the bill makes teacher protests harder to organize. 44 school districts and charter schools closed due to the low amount of teachers present.

“We haven’t always been so low [in pay]. The current administration within the state legislation doesn’t value teacher pay the way other legislation has,” science teacher, Kirsten Oshinsky said. “Right now we’re seeing them prioritizing other funding needs over teacher salary.”

Staff Photo by Joy Tekotte
Teachers and supporters rally for change in North Carolina.

For students who support the teacher movement, they can start by wearing red on Wednesdays. Teens can also contact their local representatives and legislators to speak on issues about the educational system. Registering to vote is important in order to change state laws. Start the conversation with your teachers, parents and peers to educate them on the matter.

“Education is very important. It’s essential for your future and success later in life,” senior, Jeana Freeman said. “Teachers should definitely receive more funding because in order to teach students and compensate for all learning styles, teachers need as many materials as they can fully benefit students and their education.”

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