According to former Assistant U.S. Education Secretary Diane Ravitch, there will be a thousands-strong march led by teachers in North Carolina next week.
In North Carolina, 8,000 teachers have signed up to take a personal day to march on the Capitol on May 16. The number will go up.
— Diane Ravitch (@DianeRavitch) May 7, 2018
According to a Facebook event created by the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE), Wednesday, May 16 has been designated as the March for Students and Rally for Respect, and thousands of teachers have either committed to attending the event on Facebook or indicated an interested in attending.
“North Carolina is one of the worst in the country in the amount our elected leaders spend per student, more than $3,000 behind the national average. Imagine what $3,000 per student could mean for our children. However, we have the lowest corporate tax rate in the country for states that have one–and it’s set to go lower again,” the NCAE wrote in the event description.
“North Carolina ranks 35th for teacher pay, about $9,000 behind the national average. When adjusting for inflation, educators are losing money(almost 12 percent)—the third worst rate in the country.”
These figures appear to come from 2017 data from the National Education Association, which found that North Carolina ranked 40 out of 50 states in per-student spending in 2016, with just $9,483 spent per student, compared to the national average of $12,415. In teacher salaries, North Carolina also ranks among the bottom quintile of states, with an average salary of just $47,941 in 2016, compared to a national average of $60,205.
The May 16 teacher walkout has already prompted the closure of Wake County school system, which is the state’s largest, with more than 160,000 students in its schools. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system — the state’s second-largest — is also closing on May 16, meaning 23 percent of the state’s students will not be in class next Wednesday, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.
“We are extremely aware that disrupting family routines puts a burden on parents,” Wake School Board chair Monika Johson-Hostler stated. “At the same time, the voices of our teachers need to be heard. Year after year our teachers are asked to do more with less.”
North Carolina’s upcoming teacher walkout builds on the burgeoning national movement of teacher walkouts in states like Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. Meanwhile, Governor Roy Cooper (D) has declared this week as “National Teacher Appreciation Week” (PDF link) in North Carolina.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.