Supporting the champions of public education

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Thousands of teachers, support staff and other champions of public education convened in our state’s capital Wednesday, May 1, during a “Day of Action” organized by the North Carolina Association of Educators.

Among those thousands of teachers who rallied in downtown Raleigh was a group of Brunswick County educators who proudly represented our school system and community during the highly publicized march.

Rally attendees asked for five things from the legislature: provide a $15 minimum wage for school support staff, a 5 percent raise for all school employees and a 5 percent cost-of-living adjustment for retirees; provide enough school librarians, psychologists, social workers, counselors, nurses and other health professionals to meet the national standard; expand Medicaid to improve the health of our students and families; reinstate state retiree health benefits for teachers who will be hired after 2021; and restore extra pay for teachers with advanced degrees such as a master’s degree.

Is any of that too much to ask from our state leaders? We certainly don’t think so.

We’ve seen arguments from both sides. We’ve heard the chirps from folks in our community who have called our teachers “selfish” and “politically motivated” in the past eight days. To those folks making such accusations, shame on you.

There are public educators in Brunswick County who are making more money in their second jobs than they are educating young folks in our wonderful community.

We have teacher assistants who make more money waiting tables in the summer than they are teaching students eight months of the year.

We have public education support staff whose children qualify for reduced-lunch prices because the family income falls below a certain mark.

We are better than this, North Carolina.

If our educators felt this is what they had to do to be heard, we support them 100 percent.

Several of our area’s most respected and revered educators made the trek to Raleigh last week for the “Day of Action.”

We believe our state’s political leaders heard our teachers last week. Brunswick County’s rally attendees were loud and clear in their united message.

This isn’t about Republicans and Democrats. It’s not about conservative legislators battling the NCAE. This is about right and wrong. It’s about compensating our teachers and support staff fairly.  

What will the politicians who represent us do about it?