Educators statewide encouraged to 'walk in' to public schools - WNCT

Educators organize statewide 'walk-in' to support public education

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Educators and administrators attend a Moral Monday demonstration at the General Assembly. (Jeff Reeves, WNCN) Educators and administrators attend a Moral Monday demonstration at the General Assembly. (Jeff Reeves, WNCN)
RALEIGH, N.C. -

Rather than a walkout, the North Carolina Association of Educators is encouraging a "walk-in" for American Education Week.

An anonymous group of teachers had planned a walk-out on Nov. 4 in hopes of gaining support for public education from the state government and parents.

The website for the event explained that teachers did not have to walk out or call out of work to support the movement. Rather, teachers were urged to attend town hall meetings, support rallies and spin-off groups filled with other teachers and parents.

On Thursday, the NCAE -- which previously said it did not endorse the walk-out -- said that rather than a walk-out, it is now encouraging parents, educators and legislators to "walk into your public school and walk out inspired."

"As part of American Education Week, NCAE urges all affiliates to invite community leaders to spend the day in their local public school," NCAE said in a statement.

The plan is for supporters to wear red the week of Nov. 4 in support of public education. NCAE explained that the walk-in part could be "riding a bus, monitoring bus duty, serving a meal [or] assisting with clerical support," among other actions.

Participants are encouraged to "work with teachers, children, administrators and support staff as they use their skills and talents to bring the best out of each student."

A law passed in July that directs school districts to offer their top teachers a chance to sign four-year contracts in exchange for pay raises totaling $5,000 while gradually eliminating tenure.

By 2018, all teachers will work under one-, two- or four-year contracts that replace tenure rights requiring school administrators to follow a defined process when firing a teacher.

Critics of tenure in the Republican-led General Assembly approved the change because they said rules make it difficult to get rid of ineffective teachers once they qualify for the protections after four years of teaching.

Currently, one out of every nine teachers in the state earns the lowest annual salary of $30,800. They're eligible for their first built-in raise after five years, which bumps their salary to $31,220.

North Carolina's average teacher last year made nearly $10,000 less than the national average of $55,418. Five years ago, N.C. ranked in the middle for teacher pay.

Within the last five years, the state has lost more than 4,000 teachers with up to three years of experience.

NCAE is planning to file a lawsuit in the coming months to challenge the elimination of teacher tenure, said Ann McColl, the organization's top lawyer. The lawsuit is likely to argue that the state would be violating the contractual rights of teachers who have either enjoyed the job protections or were on their way to earning them, she said.

Many teachers saw tenure as balancing low pay, she said.

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