Teachers outraged over state budget, plan to protest

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Teachers across the state are heading to Raleigh planning to speak out Monday against the state budget that cuts $286 million from public education.  Lawmakers approved the $20.6 billion budget this week.

"They need to see the teachers stand up and say, 'We are not backing down'," said Forsyth County teacher Stephanie Wallace who plans to be in Raleigh Monday.  "A lot of people are seriously looking at surrounding states just because it will cost them less in gas then what they've lost in salary."

For the sixth year in a row, lawmakers said "no" to a teacher pay raise. The bill also eliminates pay increases for teachers who obtain higher education degrees. 

"You don't want your doctor to stop getting educated on current and best practices why would you want the people educating future generations to stop getting educated," Wallace asked.

Opponents of the budget say it will alienate more teachers already near the nation's bottom in pay, eliminate their job security by removing tenure and lead to more congested classes.

The plan cuts $286 million this year and $246 million next year in funding for classroom teachers by revising teacher-student ratios. It creates vouchers that allow students meeting income limits to attend private schools with the help of up to $4,200 per year in grants.

"I think the community is going to back us," said Wallace. "I think it's going to make a difference the next time elections come around."

Governor Pat McCrory could veto the budget, but insiders don't believe that will happen.

State economic leaders fear cuts to education will not only keep good teachers from coming to our state but also jobs, saying companies don't want to invest in a state that doesn't invest in its teachers.


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