RALEIGH, N.C. — Thousands of teachers from across the state marched on the streets of Raleigh Monday.
Teachers are upset lawmakers cut their tenure and a pay raise for the sixth year in a row, putting North Carolina at the bottom in terms of pay.
“We are seeing more and more leave North Carolina. Many, many, many good young teachers are just leaving,” said Fayetteville teacher Tim Lloyd who is just one year away from retirement. “If you’ve got less than 10 years, get out, go somewhere else, go to another state. If I didn’t have what I have invested, I’d leave.”
Many teachers, who live near the state line, say they are already looking for jobs in Virginia, South Carolina and Tennessee.
“We live right on the Virginia boarder,” said Anna Quarles a teacher in Rockingham County. Quarles says she and her husband, also a teacher, are seriously considering jobs that may open up next door. “We would make a lot more in Virginia. Both my husband and I would bring in $1,400 more a month if we both went.”
The budget lawmakers passed last week also eliminates tenure and pay raises for teachers who go back to school for their masters.
“I’m getting my master’s degree and having to rush through it to get the advance pay because they’ve eliminated master pay,” said teacher Sarah Hill. “It’s telling us that [lawmakers] don’t value education, don’t value us furthering our education, and don’t value education in general.”
Educators question lawmakers who, instead of a salary increase for teachers, put $20 million toward helping low-income public school students move to private school.
Teachers also question Governor McCrory’s leadership. McCrory signed off on the “no pay raise” budget last week despite giving his cabinet secretaries a $13,200 raise this year. McCrory said Friday he had hoped to give teachers a raise but said it wasn’t possible blaming Medicaid cost overruns.
“Every opportunity we can we are going to stand for educators,” said Dannie Montgomery a teacher from Anson County. “Elected officials what you are doing is bad for North Carolina and it’s bad for public schools.”
Economic leaders believe cuts to education will make it tough for them to attract new jobs to North Carolina saying companies don’t want to invest in a state that doesn’t invest in teachers.