My office has heard from many people who are concerned that their school has chosen to close on Wednesday, May 16th so that teachers may assemble in Raleigh. Many are concerned that their children’s education is being disrupted. Many are concerned that the classroom time must be made up by tacking time onto the end of remaining school days thus forcing many more days of schedule interference.
Many are concerned that they simply cannot afford to pay for unexpected childcare or to lose a day’s work. Many are concerned that they are struggling to find quality child care with short notice, and they must bear the burden of that cost. Many are worried that their child's meals were planned to be eaten at school, and now they are fearful they could be missed. Many school employees are concerned that they will miss a day of work. All of these citizens have a right to be upset.
I respect every citizen’s right to protest and to have their voice heard. I would, however, like to remind all the educators in my district that my door has, and will always be open. District 48 teachers do not need to travel to Raleigh to have their voice heard. My door has and will always be open to every one of you. I still will continue to be open and willing to meet with anyone or any group living in my district who has ideas to present me regarding public education.
This year our teacher’s pay will average over $50,000. Teachers have received raises each of the last four years, and a fifth- 6.1% is scheduled to go into effect in a few weeks. I have voted for teacher pay raises for both of the years in which I have served the NC Senate. According to the National Education Association, NC ranked #1 for teacher wage growth in 2017 and ranked #2 for teacher wage growth in 2018.
I understand how difficult teaching can be with the societal issues we face today, and how important it is to our children and their future. I am incredibly appreciative of the jobs our teachers do, and I am happy to listen to those with constructive suggestions on how to continue to better our state’s education system.
However, this closure for what appears to be little more than a political rally places an undue burden on parents working hard to provide for their children. Ultimately, it is the decision of the local school board and superintendent to close these schools to accommodate this scheduled protest.
For those of you who have scheduled to meet with me in Raleigh on Wednesday, I will be looking forward to our dialog.