March for school funding ends in 14 arrests

Posted June 15, 2016

— After marching more than 20 miles over two days to press lawmakers for more education funding in the state budget, several teachers were arrested Wednesday evening while sitting down in the middle of Morgan Street outside the State Capitol.

Raleigh police said that 14 people were arrested after they declined to leave the area. They were each taken to the Wake County Detention Center and charged with impeding the flow of traffic and resisting, delaying or obstructing law enforcement officers.

A few dozen marchers started in Durham on Tuesday to draw attention to the needs of North Carolina's public schools. The demonstration was sparked by the House's recent passage of a bill that would allow private charter school companies to take over management of five low-performing schools in an "achievement school district."

"This is about teachers not being able to control the conditions in their classrooms to have learning occur," said Todd Warren, a Guliford County teacher.

The teachers said the issues their students face are complex and a charter school takeover is not the answer.

"If the governor expands or fully funds public education and expands Medicaid, our students get what they need, their parents get what they need and it won't be such a struggle," said Carrol Olinger, a Cumberland County teacher.

"We live in a state where 500,000 people could have access to free health care from the federal government, and they're being denied it. We live in a state where 25 percent of our kids live in poverty. We live in a state where 16-year-olds are tried as adults," said Bryan Proffitt, a Durham teacher.

After arriving in Raleigh, the marchers rallied outside the Legislative Building along with several dozen members of the North Carolina Association of Educators before heading over to the Capitol in an effort to meet with Gov. Pat McCrory, who was out of the office at another appointment.

Graham Wilson, a spokesman for McCrory, said the governor's education adviser and deputy chief of staff were available to meet with the group. The protesters initially declined, he said, demanding to speak with McCrory, but they later changed their minds. By the time the staffers returned to the Capitol to meet with them, however, the protest had moved to Morgan Street, Wilson said.

Achievement school district supporters say the idea could be an effective way to turn around failing schools and provide more educational opportunities for students.

Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, also said the protesters are ignoring the progress McCrory has made in funding education in recent years.

"It's just surprising. Under the McCrory years, the governor raised teacher pay more than any other state," Woodhouse said. "We are also getting ready to raise teacher pay again. This governor has done great things for teachers, as has the legislature and they are going to continue to do that this year."

The press secretary for the governor sent a response outlining how the Governor is indeed pushing for increase in teacher pay and noting that 57 percent of the state budget general fund goes to education.

Wilson noted that McCrory's budget proposal called for raising the average teacher salary in the state to $50,000, which would rank 34th nationally and third in the Southeast. North Carolina currently ranks 41st nationwide in average teacher salary.


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  • Shandy Scott Jun 17, 2016
    user avatar

    Incredible that this gets news coverage with as the story stated there was a few dozen marchers. If I gather one more than a few dozen will WRAL have coverage about our march with two days of news coverage??? But this is not political!!!!

  • Gailya Paliga Jun 16, 2016
    user avatar

    Thank you for covering the teachers’ massive effort to bring attention to the needs of their students, the needs of public school support staff, and other needs for public schools.

    I attended the press conference and I went with hundreds at the Capitol to speak to Governor McCrory or his staff about student and teacher concerns. We were there at 4:45pm. The doors were already locked and all attempts to reach McCrory and his staff failed.

    The press conference at 4pm was full of moving, beautiful and passionate speeches by teachers, teacher assistants, PTA, Vice President of the NC Association for Educators, and allies (Reverend Barber of the NC-NAACP). A Spanish teacher and parent spoke about how her 1st and 2nd graders had classes salvaged by a set of grandparents who consistently volunteered to cover for Teacher Assistants who lost their jobs thanks to previous (2013) NCGA cuts. Decrepit text books from 2004. Larger classes. And much more.

  • Jim Williams Jun 16, 2016
    user avatar

    How much money is enough? Each year it is the same old argument. If we spent 50K per child they would be back next year using the same arguments asking for 60K per child. This is just a Democrat union, NCAE, using low information members as political pawns.

  • Shandy Scott Jun 16, 2016
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Sorry have to update a FACT. Teachers pay now ranks 41st.

  • Shandy Scott Jun 16, 2016
    user avatar

    Funny teachers did not walk one foot when we had a Democratic Governor and their pay was ranked 47th in the country. Now it is 42nd and with a Republican Governor, they are marching but this is not political. According to the NEA's web site, North Carolina teachers have the lowest cumulative raises in the country from 2003-2012. Democrats had control of the Governor's seat all of those ten years and the General Assembly for the first eight years.

  • Craig Elliott Jun 15, 2016
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    IMHO, they diluted their message by throwing in every other social issues they could find.

    BTW, I object to the adjective "free", as in "free health care from the federal government" - Bryan Proffitt. It's NOT free: someone worked the hours and paid the taxes that the Feds are spending.

  • Demute Sainte Jun 15, 2016
    user avatar

    Whiners will always whine about something.

    NC could pay teachers $100K per year... but then everyone else working for the government would demand the same... police, fire, road crews, administrators... of course that would lead to everyone NOT working for the government to complain about how high the taxes are. Resulting in people leaving the State because they could not afford to stay and we would end up broke.

    The neat thing about teaching is you can always find a job elsewhere. (take it as you will)

  • Byrd Ferguson Jun 15, 2016
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    ""It's just surprising. Under the McCrory years, the governor raised teacher pay more than any other state," Woodhouse said." Dallas is just as much of a fool now as he was back in high school.

  • Liz Paley Jun 15, 2016
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    The governor was able to raise teacher pay more than in any other state because he ensured we dropped to the bottom of the barrel first. How convenient that he timed the increase for an election year.

  • Stacie Hagwood Jun 15, 2016
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    We cannot replace our legislators and governor fast enough.