When legislators return to Raleigh later this month they will be met by teachers marching for higher wages, as well as other updates to schools.
The Rally for Respect and the March for Students will begin May 16 at 10 a.m. The assembled will march from the North Carolina Association of Educator’s (NCAE) office in downtown Raleigh and will end at the legislature where those present can participate in a rally that afternoon.
In the time between the march and the rally those attending are expected to meet with legislators to push for higher wages and increased education spending in a number of areas.
According to the NCAE website the union is advocating for “professionally paid educators” as well as safer schools and structural improvements to schools in need of repair.
NCAE also says that North Carolina is one of the worst states in the country in per-pupil spending, listing North Carolina as being about $2,400 behind the national average.
“Imagine what $2,400 per child could mean for our students and their future,” reads a post on the union’s website. “However, we have the lowest corporate tax rate in the country for states that have one—and it’s set to go lower again.”
NCAE says that teachers in North Carolina rank 37th in the nation, saying that the average pay for North Carolina teachers is about $9,600 behind the national average.
There are questions about the validity of that statistic however when taken with the fact that many of North Carolina’s teachers are early career teachers, which can skew the statistic.
Starting teacher pay in North Carolina is $35,000, not including local salary incentives some counties provide for educators, while average pay for teachers is $50,000.
According to National Education Association (NEA) data, in 2018, North Carolina has the second fastest rising teacher pay in the U.S., and in 2017 the state had the fastest rising teacher pay.
2018 is also the fifth consecutive year that teachers have received pay raises after years of frozen pay for teachers in the state.
But the union says more is needed to get teachers to a level that NCAE says they should be at.
According to the latest reports about 1,000 Durham teachers are planning to take May 16 off to rally for higher wages, approaching half of all teachers in the district, raising questions about whether the schools will even be able to open on that day.
While NCAE is working to drum up support for the rally when it comes to its parent group, NAE membership is continuing to decrease in recent years, totaling a 6.4 percent reduction in membership over the last five years.
About half of all NEA state affiliates lost membership in the 2015-16 year.
Total membership for NCAE stood at 32,918, an 8.6 percent decline from the previous year, the second largest in the nation following the Washington D.C. affiliate which bled 37.4 percent of its membership last year.