Havelock teachers join statewide protests over education cuts

Published: Monday, November 4, 2013 at 06:07 PM.

Without the ability to strike, teachers banded together Monday after school in what was called a walk-in. Tucker Creek Assistant Principal Shawn McCarthy said having teachers walk out of class would have been impractical.

“Our first duty is to educate the children and in order to do that we have to be here with the children in our classroom,” he said. “So, we all agreed that while there are laws and decisions that have been passed and made that we don’t agree with, the children should not suffer because of those decisions and our dislike of those decisions, so we’re going to come and do our jobs and find another way to voice our opinion that the decisions aren’t necessarily what’s best for business and what’s best for kids. Let’s try to find another way to do what needs to be done without putting it on the backs of kids.”

McCarthy said legislators need to go to teachers to find out how their decisions impact students.

“If you’ve never been in the classroom or have never been an educator then you might not know,” he said. “For instance, I’ve never been a doctor, so I shouldn’t be making health care laws because I don’t have that expertise.”

Tucker Creek teachers made a bulletin board in which they could anonymously express their concerns without fear of reprisal. Included in the concerns was removal of tenure and merit pay. Legislators also dropped bonus pay for future teachers with master’s degrees and removed the cap on class sizes. Teachers also complained about the loss of work days and pay for teacher assistants.

Teachers said Monday that qualified educators were walking away from the career or choosing to work in other states where teacher pay is better.

North Carolina ranks 46th in the nation with an average teacher salary of $45,947 compared to the national average of $55,418, according to the National Association of Educators. Over the past decade, North Carolina has had a 15.7 percent decrease in salaries when adjusted for inflation, the largest decrease in the country, according to the NEA.

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