GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. - More than half of our state's budget goes to education., but many teachers want it to be more: more in the classroom and more in their paychecks.
On May 16, educators across the state will head to Raleigh, to pressure lawmakers.
When you look at the statistics on the surface, the increases are clear. This year's state budget is slated to provide the 5th consecutive teacher pay raise in North Carolina. On average, that increase will likely be more than 6 percent, compared with last year. Plus, newly released national data from the National Education Association shows last year - our state had the fastest rising teacher pay in the U.S.
But, North Carolina's teacher pay still sits below the national average, and if you factor in inflation, we're not at the point we once were a decade ago.
“Ever since I became a teacher, back in 1988, I have always worked two jobs sometimes three to make ends meet,” said Karen Meacham, a 30-year teaching veteran.
“I’m not in it for the money,” said first year teacher Carla Harris, “But I deserve more money than what I am getting. I am afraid to break down the hours of the work that I do, because I know that it's going to be tragic.”
Meacham and Harris both teach at Guilford County Schools. Meacham teaches elementary music, and Harris teaches high school science. They both *love their jobs, but they say the resources aren't always there.
“It’s very exhausting, and I think that teachers are blamed for a lot of things that are out of their control,” said Harris, “When you are being asked to do more and more with less and less, and then blamed for it - it's very disheartening.”
They say the issue isn't just teacher pay – that’s only one part. They want more per pupil spending, and more to the education budget overall. They say the fight isn’t just for them – it’s for their students. Many teachers say more money in the classrooms will greatly increase the quality of a student’s education.
“[State lawmakers] need to listen to us. They need to do what we asked them to do for what is best for our kids, and for the betterment of our future,” said Meacham.
Teachers will hold an advocacy day and rally in Raleigh on May 16th, which will start with a march for students at 10 a.m. Five hundred Guilford County Schools teachers - and counting - plan to take a personal day to be there, according to the Guilford County Association of Educators.
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