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Teachers deserve better: Orange County senior delivers emotional speech at meeting

Posted May 17, 2016

— Last week, Orange County commissioners caught an earful about teacher pay and school budgets from someone who feels the pinch from both sides - the son of a teacher.

In a very powerful speech, Mateo Carvalho, a senior at Cedar Ridge High School, said he does not get to bed until 2 a.m. some nights because he works two jobs. His mother, a teacher, also works a second job to pay the bills.

"I'm here because I am exhausted," he said to county commissioners during last week's meeting. "I worked 27 hours in the last five days after school on top of taking eight exams. I have worked so much during exam week because my mother is a teacher in Orange County Public Schools."

Sparing no details about what that means to his family, Carvalho said teachers deserve better.

"(My mother) works two jobs. Wakes up at 7 in the morning. Takes my younger brother to school. Goes to school all day - on her feet all day. Goes to work at Food Lion until 11 at night...it's ridiculous," he said. "All of my teachers are working two jobs."

Jennifer Cypra, Carvalho's mother, said it was hard to hear her son say those things.

"You don't want your kids to struggle. You want them to have everything in the world, and when you are not really able to do that, it sort of breaks your heart," she said.

But Cypra said she is also bursting with pride for her son, whose spur-of-the-moment speech got a standing ovation.

County commissioners are considering a proposed $2.6 million increase in educational funding. The Board of Education asked for a $9 million boost.

"If you're telling me my future is worth less than a dollar a day to you, well, you're not doing the best you can," Carvalho said at the meeting. "I count seven TVs in this room."

His voice made an impact.

"If I could work every day for the rest of my life just to make sure the teachers in this country never have to struggle the way my family does, then I will, and that's what I am going to do," he said.

Commissioners said they were very moved by Carvalho’s speech. The next public hearing on the county budget is scheduled for Thursday.


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  • Roy Pine May 18, 2016
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    I can't think of a single reason to respect the Legislature. The only benefits they've given anybody are the kickbacks to their golfing buddies.

  • Kyle Clarkson May 18, 2016
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    Non-teacher state employees also have important jobs, critically important jobs . Bridge inspector, building inspector, internet security, law enforcement, water air quality, budget auditors, first responders, medics, etc.
    State employees have gone for 8 years without a raise.

    It's easy to compare teacher's salaries to other states, and request raises. Much more difficult to compare the hundreds of other jobs state employees perform.

    In conclusion, please keep in mind ALL state employees when considering salary discrepancies.

  • Brian Bennet May 18, 2016
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    That sounds very close to outright bribery!!

    Hey teachers, if we give you a raise you have to promise not to disagree with any of our policies. Deal??

  • Jarfaris Brown May 18, 2016
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    Teachers do deserve more money, but too they need to give some respect to the Legislature. The Legislature is offering to give them the biggest raise they had in 10 years, and they're out supporting the liberal NCAE, and trying to get HB2 repealed. They need to get their priorities in order. And, let's face it, the product being put out by the public schools, ain't worth much.

  • Roger Clements May 17, 2016
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    The young man makes some great points. Teachers should make a lot more money. First responders like EMT/paramedics, police and fire personnel should also make a lot more.