WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. —
Local educators have outlined their goals for attending the March for Students and Rally for Respect in Raleigh on Wednesday.
About 1,600 school district staff members from Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools will be absent on Wednesday during the rally. For that reason, school district leaders announced school would be closed that day. Guilford County Schools, Asheboro City Schools, Lexington City Schools and Thomasville City Schools are also closing on Wednesday.
The President of the Forsyth County Association of Educators, Ronda Mays, says the top five priorities for attending the rally are making sure the state funding per student is increased, there are fewer restrictions on school districts’ ability to allocate funds, ensure there is a nurse, counselor, social worker and psychologist per each 300 students in the state, teacher salaries are raised and tax cuts for large companies are limited in order to provide more funds for school systems.
According to the North Carolina Association of Educators, the state ranks 39th in spending per student with an annual expenditure of about $2,300 less spending per student than the national average. The organization also reports that teacher salaries in North Carolina rank 39th in the country. She says both spending per student and teacher salaries should be at least on par with the national averages.
“You are expecting us to be professionals in our educational experience, why not pay us as professionals? So we want to make certain that we are attracting people to education. Those students who are making those decisions of what am I going to do with my life? We want to make certain that they choose going into education,” said Mays.
“Most educators are working two to three jobs, if they have families, in order to make a living. Our teacher assistants, they work two or three jobs and even some of them are able to qualify for food stamps so that’s pretty ironic that you work for the state and then you also have to receive state benefits, there’s something wrong with that.”
In addition, Mays says more restrictions have been placed on school districts’ ability to allocate funds and most of those restrictions need to be lifted. Mays, who is also a licensed social worker who works in the school district, also says throughout the state, there needs to be at least one nurse, counselor, social worker and psychologist per each 300 students but that is not the case right now. Mays says in order to make these changes happen, fewer tax breaks should be given to large corporations in North Carolina so that there will be more funding available for school districts.
Debi Martinez, who teaches 6th grade at East Forsyth Middle School, says she cannot wait to attend the rally on Wednesday.
“I’m hoping that this will lead to more unification and I want parents to understand that we are doing this for them and for their children. We don’t enjoy leaving our classrooms for a day. We don’t enjoy school being cancelled right her near testing, but this is something that has to be done. We’re standing up not just for our profession but also for the children and all the students in North Carolina,” said Martinez.
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