RALEIGH — The N.C. Association of Educators (NCAE), an affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA), has announced another teacher protest to take place in early May.
In a Facebook post over the weekend, the NCAE stated that “May 1 will be a Day of Action for public education.”
“I’m sad to say, we still have enemies on Jones Street,” said NCAE President Mark Jewell in the post. “It’s time we paid them another visit.”
“If it wasn’t clear before, it is now: The NCAE is a far-left political organization that uses the teachers and students it purports to represent as a tool to advance its leaders’ unrelated political agenda,” Senator Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) said in a statement to North State Journal.
“North Carolina teacher pay has grown at the third-highest rate in the entire country over the last five years, and teachers absolutely deserve it. Yet the NCAE leadership is still calling for a strike on May 1,” Hise said.
The NCAE’s “Day of Action” includes a list of five demands for the General Assembly. The list, which was unveiled at the NCAE’s Annual Convention on March 22 and 23, includes teacher pay items, but also demands the expansion of Medicaid. The group is demanding a $15 minimum wage for all school personnel, a 5% raise for all non-certified staff, and a 5% cost of living increase for all retirees. Other pay-related requests include restoration of higher pay for teachers with masters degrees and reinstatement of retirement benefits for teachers hired after 2021. The group also wants the state to pay for more librarians, social workers, counselors, psychologists, and nurses at public schools. The final demand is to expand Medicaid to cover 800,000 more North Carolinians.
“Apparently recognizing that Republican leadership has been great for teachers and students, the radical left-wing NCAE added Obamacare Medicaid expansion to its list of demands,” said Hise when asked for his response to these demands.
In May of 2018, an estimated 19,000 teachers in North Carolina attended the NCAE organized “March for Respect.” Forty-two of the state’s 115 school districts were forced to cancel classes, impacting over a million students or 68 percent of the state’s K-12 population.
Many parents complained that the walk-out left students with a day less of instruction and preparation for upcoming year end exams and created difficulties with a missed school day in the middle of the work week. Districts received an unusually-high number of requests for sick leave or personal leave, leaving teachers free to attend the march.
The call for another protest by the NCAE comes not long after their parent organization, the NEA, announced their annual state rankings of education spending and teacher pay.
When the Republicans took over a majority at the legislature in 2011, teacher pay had been frozen by former Gov. Beverly Perdue and the Democratic-held legislature. One of the results of the freeze was the state’s NEA ranking tumbled to 45th in the nation.
Since that low point, the state has increased teacher pay and increased school funding while to bypass 18 states and is ranked 29th by the NEA this year. The rank of 29th for teacher pay, however, does not take into account other factors, such as cost of living, bonuses or benefits packages. Dr. Terry Stoops of the John Locke Foundation says when one adjusts for cost of living, North Carolina’s rank climbs to 20th.
Since 2013, the North Carolina General Assembly has raised pay 19 percent and has been third in the nation for fastest rising teacher compensation rates. The state’s current average teacher salary is now $53,975, which is an average increase of $2,741, or 9.5 percent, over the previous year.