RALLY IN RALEIGH: Teachers seeking more resources march on state Capitol

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"I'm here to make sure our students have what they need to have a bright future", said Tami Brantley, 51, a teacher of 26 years from Cabarrus County, on the outskirts of Charlotte.

Similar walkouts and protests have prompted change in other states.

Jameel Williams was among the thousands from across the state to march from the NCAE headquarters to the North Carolina State Legislative Building.

North Carolina teachers earn an average salary of about $50,000, ranking them 39th in the country past year, the National Education Association reported last month.

Cheryl Burford is a music teacher at Clyde Erwin Elementary Magnet School of International Studies and Cultural Arts in Onslow County. Organized by the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE), in conjunction with the Community Alliance for Public Education (CAPE), teachers began marching at the NCAE headquarters and ended at the NC Legislative Building. "The GOP legislators in the N.C. General Assembly have politicized education, and they refuse to do what's best for teachers and students".

North Carolina now ranks 37th in teacher pay and 39th in per pupil spending, according to the National Education Association.

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Wednesday's event is "the beginning of a six-month stretch of time to hold our legislators accountable for prioritizing corporate tax cuts, instead of our classrooms", and work toward the ultimate goal of "electing more pro-public education leaders in North Carolina to return our state back to a beacon for public schools", the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) said in a statement that laid out a list of expectations for lawmakers.

Personally Myers has made choices about paying student loans or buying poster board for a student's class project.

According to data on the National Education Association website, for 2016-2017 the national average starting teacher salary was $38,617.

The one-day labor action caused numerous school districts across the state to cancel classes for more than 1 million students. "We need to get behind our students now or accept that the way things are is how they'll stay".

But not all of them could make it.

The 38-year-old said her concerns go beyond teacher pay to basic school needs that go unfunded.

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Jewell said teachers don't really expect the current leadership to meet all their demands, which is why they are also urging voters to not re-elect them.

"We have no intention of raising taxes", Berger said before the march, complaining that "a million kids are not going to be in school (Wednesday) because a political organization wants to have folks come" to the legislature.

As part of their multi-year professional compensation and benefits plan, teachers want to get an annual cost-of-living increase, get significant raises for all public school employees, and end pay for performance based on test scores, to name a few of their priorities.

"We have the power to mold the future", he said. Their pay increased by 4.2 percent over the previous year - the second-biggest increase in the country - and was estimated to rise an average 1.8 percent this year, the NEA said. "They deserve safe schools and schools that are not crumbling and in disrepair". They've had some salary increases in recent years, but when adjusted for inflation, they've lost 9.4% in pay since 2009.

Elmore says it may not be moving as fast as some would like but at least it is moving in the right direction; pointing out that he had firsthand knowledge of the pay struggles teachers have faced. "This semester, one of my former students approached me and pulled out her AP history book smiling because my name was in the front cover".

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