Inside the "Moral Monday" protest, July 29, 2013. Courtesy WRAL.
North Carolina - More than 8,000 teachers in North Carolina converged in Raleigh at this week's Moral Monday protest--the largest yet--to speak out against the newly-passed state budget, which does not include a teacher compensation increase.
The $20.6 billion budget includes $11.5 billion of funding for the UNC system, community colleges and state public schools but also eliminates teacher tenure, freezes teacher salaries for the fifth time in six years, ends automatic pay increases for teachers who get Master's Degrees and reduces funding for teachers' assistants.
Guilford County Association of Educators president Elizabeth Foster spoke with News 2's Good Morning Show Tuesday after having just returned from the Moral Monday rally. She said she does not know one teacher who supports the provisions in the budget that target teacher compensation. She said nixing tenure and automatic pay increases for teachers who obtain Master's degrees will most likely lower teacher morale and even encourage teachers to move to other states, where pay is higher.
Elon University political analyst Dr. Jason Husser also joined News 2's Good Morning Show Tuesday and acknowledged legislators most likely passed the budget as-is in an effort to reduce the overall budget and allocate more resources into other educational aspects.
Aside from cutting teacher pay provisions, the budget does fully fund enrollment growth in grades K through 12, in the UNC system and in community colleges. It also adds $23.6 million to continue funding the Excellent Public Schools Act and provides funding for the expansion of the use of technology and innovation in schools.
Husser said his he polled 770 people in April about teacher tenure, which teachers can receive after a four-year-trial period and can use as prevention against being fired, unless a legal procedure is implemented. Husser's data showed about 56 percent of those polled do not support giving teachers tenure, while about 40 percent did favor it.
Husser also polled the public about teacher pay, and almost 78 percent of people believe teachers in North Carolina grades K through 12 are paid too little. Poll takers also raked North Carolina public schools grades A through F to denote quality of work, and the majority of poll takers-39 percent-ranked them a "B."
Gov. McCrory's office has said it will make an education announcement later this week. His senior education advisor did acknowledge the office is considering the budget does not adequately address teacher needs. McCrory's seior education advisor said, "We did fund education in our state. Perhaps we did not fund it to the extent that perhaps was needed, as it comes to the needs of the teachers."