Teachers protest state budget during Gov. McCrory's visit

Teachers protest state budget during Gov. McCrory's visit

GREENVILLE, PITT COUNTY - During Gov. Pat McCrory visit to Pitt County Friday, teachers and parents held a rally to protest the state budget's impact on education.

The North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) organized Friday morning's rally at the Greenville Town Common.

"The teachers intend to hold lawmakers accountable for what they did to public education this year and will not let them get away with deliberately misleading talking points designed to fool the public," according to a release from the NCAE.

Speakers at the rally included Rodney Ellis, president of the NCAE, Bill Harrison, former chair of the State Board of Education, and teacher Tara Speicher.

"[The budget's] just not good for public education and I believe that the people and community don't really realize how damaging it's gonna be for our school system," said Ellis.

NewsChannel 12 caught up with Gov. McCrory on the ECU campus, where he addressed the concerns of the demonstrators.

"I'm being honest about the budget," said McCrory.

But the governor, who has a teaching degree himself, said his hands are tied because of people who the teachers appointed.

"We need to let the unions unleash us and let us reward the best of the best teachers, which the teacher's union doesn't want at this point in time," Gov. McCrory said.

By law, the NCAE does not have bargaining or striking abilities.

McCrory said he plans to meet with a committee of teachers to "find long term solutions to how we can reward the teachers who are really having an impact and help teachers make this a profession that they can afford to be in."

Butthat may not be good enough for the NCAE.

"[In] an ideal world, the governor would call a special session and bring legislatures back to revisit this budget, and make decisions that are going to be better for public education. And if that's not the case, then we'll remember next November," said Ellis.

A similar protest took place in Wake County as well. Several groups organized a rally Thursday morning outside the old Capitol building in Raleigh, not far from Gov. McCrory's office. The 100 in attendance said McCrory and other GOP politicians aren't mentioning the harm the spending plan will do as traditional-calendar schools resume in a couple of weeks.
Former U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge said there are real cuts to public education with less money to pay teacher assistants and the creation of a program giving tax dollars to students in low-income families for private school tuition.
But Republicans have said the budget actually increased public school spending compared to last year. State Rep. John Bell said lawmakers want to raise teacher's pay.  In addition, 1,800 full-time teaching positions will be added in the next two years instead of teaching assistants, according to Gov. McCrory's website.

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