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Teachers crowd final Raleigh 'Moral Monday' protest

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Demonstrators march to the State Capitol during the last Moral Monday protest of the legislative session. (Michael Barnard, WNCN) Demonstrators march to the State Capitol during the last Moral Monday protest of the legislative session. (Michael Barnard, WNCN)
Demonstrators gather at Halifax Mall for the final Moral Monday protest. (Michael Barnard, WNCN) Demonstrators gather at Halifax Mall for the final Moral Monday protest. (Michael Barnard, WNCN)
Demonstrators gather at Halifax Mall for the final Moral Monday protest. (Michael Barnard, WNCN) Demonstrators gather at Halifax Mall for the final Moral Monday protest. (Michael Barnard, WNCN)
RALEIGH, N.C. -

Thousands of North Carolina teachers and other protesters on Monday staged one of the largest of the almost-weekly demonstrations opposing Republican policy decisions.

The North Carolina Association of Educators brought busloads of teachers to Raleigh on Monday as the protests reached the three-month mark. Thousands of red-shirt-wearing educators listened to speakers on a lawn inside the state government complex, then marched several blocks for another rally outside the antebellum state Capitol building.

"Educators are sick and tired of being demoralized," NCAE President Rodney Ellis said at a news conference preceding the rally. "We're sick and tired of being unappreciated. We're sick and tired of being disrespected. Public educators and public schools are not failing our students, politicians are."

The $21 billion state spending plan for this year offers no raises for North Carolina teachers, among the lowest-paid in the country. GOP lawmakers also are cutting public education spending, job security, and education bonuses while creating a grant system for low-income public school students to move to private schools.

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Republicans are proud of what they accomplished in the annual legislative session that ended last week, including cutting taxes while keeping their obligation to balance the state budget, said Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake.

"We can no longer have a state with high unemployment. We can no longer have a state with low expectations for our students. Republicans simply will not accept that. We believe that our economy can grow. We believe that our students can achieve," said Dollar, a top budget-writer in the state House.

With lawmakers gone, the protest — called "Moral Monday" by organizers — featured none of the civil disobedience that led to about 925 demonstrators being arrested outside the legislative chambers in previous weeks.

North Carolina NAACP President Rev. William Barber said the weekly protests will continue, but move to different locations around the state. The next will be in Asheville next Monday and there are plans to hold demonstrations in all 13 of North Carolina's congressional districts, Barber said.

"We are not ending Moral Monday," he said. "We are suspending it here and taking it on the road."

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