NCAE denies GOP charge it's orchestrating teacher walkout

Posted October 31, 2013

— Plans for an organized show of support for public education next week has turned into a political fight, with state and local Republican leaders accusing the North Carolina Association of Educators of orchestrating a strike that they say will endanger student safety.

The push for a Nov. 4 teacher walkout started on Facebook several months ago among a handful of teachers angry about actions taken by the General Assembly this year, including ending tenure rights for veteran teachers, launching a private school tuition voucher program and passing a budget with no raises for educators.

The teachers' calls for a walkout picked up a lot of support, and Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake, said Thursday that he believes the NCAE was behind it.

"We think most teachers would actually prefer to stay in the classroom with their students so they can educate them, take care of them," Hunt said. "But they're apparently being pressured by the NCAE and their affiliation with the national union."

NCAE President Rodney Ellis said his group had nothing to do with it the proposed strike. A review of social media posts in recent months show that members of the association even actively discouraged a walkout.

"It was not us. It was some frustrated educators who have reached a point – and I guess that's key right there, is the fact that, when you get to the point that educators are talking about taking action that is clearly against the law, you know that they've reached a boiling point," Ellis said.

NCAE President Rodney Ellis NCAE hopes walk-in builds public support for teachers

North Carolina law prohibits teachers from unionizing or striking, which is why the NCAE pushed the group to turn the event into a "walk-in" that won't leave students unattended or get anyone fired.

"If you get a handful of teachers walking out of their classroom, that only results in teachers losing their positions," Ellis said. "As admirable as it is and the energy is there – and we appreciate that, we think there are more – there are other ways that we can get our message across."

The walk-in is meant to spark discussion among teachers and parents about challenges like spending cuts and low teacher pay, he said, adding that it's not meant to be a political protest.

Individual schools and parent groups are deciding for themselves whether they want to take part, he said.

Wake County Public School System officials have told school administrators "neither to orchestrate the events nor obstruct them" as long as they don't interfere with classroom activities, district spokeswoman Renee McCoy said.

Still, Hunt said he isn't buying Ellis' claims, noting that the NCAE and Republican legislative leaders have spent the past three years butting heads.

"We think that teachers should be paid more, and we're certainly going to do that as soon as we can find the money, but there's no question this is a political event," he said.


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  • ricky28501 Nov 4, 2013

    So what is Hunt afraid of?

  • Paidforalittlewhile Nov 4, 2013

    A Republican-controlled Congress started this mess, not the NCAE. Only they (Reps) are responsible for any upset.

  • tracmister Nov 4, 2013

    In most other states things have gotten better, people have gotten raises, and life goes on. Oh, that's right, in North Carolina by a dominated Republican legislature who blames the democrats as much as Obama blames Bush we are still in the top five states for unemployment. Hey, lets point the finger at the union that isn't a union.

  • free2bme Nov 4, 2013

    This is not about Democrats or Republicans. It is about our teachers and the education of NC children. Some people only see political parties and not the issues. There is a problem and the recent decisions by the NC GA did not help but make the problem worse. I think what most of us want is for the elected officials to consider the people and children of this state. The NC Legislature proved that they have no concern or care and it is the people that must let them know that we want them to reconsider what they are doing to our state. 2014 is vastly approaching and it is election year. Tillis, one of the leaders of the NC GA, has thrown his name into the race. I suggest that we make sure our voices are heard come election day.

  • tracmister Nov 4, 2013

    The NCGOP's accusation of the NCAE orchestrating a walk out is sheer stupidity.

  • lbofnonsense Nov 4, 2013

    Many of these posts have a similar refrain in that folks want to know "why" teachers weren't complaining when salaries were frozen in the first place.

    In the early days of the economic collapse, my colleagues and I all mistakenly thought, "They won't dare touch education."

    Then came the pay freeze and we thought, "At least we get to keep our jobs."

    Now the jobs that we were so happy to keep, have become increasingly more difficult as class sizes have grown, resources have been taken away, some 5 weeks of instruction is lost to testing, and now part of my job evaluation is going to be tied to how my students perform on one of those tests over a 3 day period.

    But I should just smile and move on because I didn't publicly complain when a different political party was in power? Right?

    Look, I don't care if little green creatures from Mars come down and are elected into power...I want someone IN POWER to do SOMETHING to correct something that we all know is wrong.

  • yankee17 Nov 4, 2013


    Thanks for the parental support. And you wonder why quality teachers are leaving in droves......

  • miseem Nov 4, 2013

    Six years of state budget cuts. This has been going on for a long time, mostly under Democrat control of the state. If anything, Republicans are inheriting this problem along with other Democrat messes.

    "A few years ago, North Carolina was close to the national average in teacher pay. Six years of state budget cuts and pay freezes have left the state 46th in teacher salaries ".
    Logical Dude.

    You do realize that for 4 of the last 6 years, the state legislature, who approves budgets and controls the purse strings, has been controlled by the GOP, right?

  • kdogwnc Nov 1, 2013

    I plan to be at a local school on Monday to show my support for our hard-working, underpaid public school teachers.

  • familyandamerica Nov 1, 2013

    If you go six years without a pay raise, I don't think it matters too much to you which party is in power. Teachers and non-political appointee state workers have been undercompensated for a long while now and it's time to make things right. All the "What about Bev?" commenters are welcome to go ask her if she can fix it. (Hint: She can't.) The responsibility now sits with Governor McCrory and our embarrassment of a General Assembly.