Education

Legislator blames 'union thugs' as teachers plan to rally for better pay, safer schools

Posted May 14, 2018 5:24 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 11:15 a.m. EDT

— As educators plan to rally Wednesday for better pay, a number of educators are saying that other issues are just as important, if not more important, than salary.

About 15,000 teachers are expected to rally Wednesday in downtown Raleigh, making the case for better funding to state lawmakers. NCAE President Mark Jewell said there are five major requests on their list.

  •   Raising per-pupil spending to the national average within four years.
  • A professional compensation plan that includes livable wages for all public school employees and restoring pay for advanced degrees and longevity, among other things.
  • Safer school through the addition of at least 500 school nurses, social workers and counselors this year.
  • Use the $1.9 billion statewide school construction bond to fix schools in need of repair.
  • An end to corporate tax cuts until per-pupil spending and teacher pay are at the national average.

Jewell says the needs in schools are great.

“We have not had a textbook adoption in 15 years. We have school districts deciding whether or not to pay the light bill or buy toilet paper. We have classrooms in elementary school and fourth grade that are 35 students and higher in some instances. This is not normal. This is not the North Carolina way,” he said.

Despite the large number of educators expected to gather in Raleigh, it appears some state lawmakers will be harder to convince.

“I support the message, but I don’t support the method,” said Rep. Mark Brody, R-Union.

Brody made headlines with a post on social media, calling the event hypocritical for claiming to support students because the rally is forcing so many schools to close.

In his post, he says “teacher union thugs” want to control the education process.

By phone, Brody told WRAL News that he was referring to national unions, which he feels are behind the movement.

“This thing, from the top, from the national level, I believe, is being organized by the national unions where ultimately the intent is to intimidate the General Assembly,” he said.

“Those who are taking care of our precious commodity, our public school children, are being referred to in such negative and offensive terms and we take issue with that,” Jewell said in response.