The Wake County Board of Education just gave a gift to Wake County Public School teachers and the North Carolina Association of Educators should say thank you. The board said it will close schools on May 16th so teachers can attend a statewide protest sponsored by the North Carolina Association of Educators. Wake joins Charlotte Mecklenburg, Durham and Chapel Hill as districts that will be closed on May 16th.
By closing schools, teachers won’t have to use personal leave or get a sub to cover classes. In citing their decision to close schools most boards say too many teachers requested personal leave for the rally to make it impossible to operate normally or the difficulty in finding substitutes.
Yes, teachers, like everyone else have a right to express their opinions. But schools aren’t supposed to be places for politicking. There are laws against that. This is a case of everyone knowing what is going on but no one doing anything about it.
The real question is do teachers have the right to express their opinions if it means closing school for thousands of students and other employees? Collectively people know the answer to that question. It’s logical to ask why the rally couldn’t have been scheduled for either later on the same day or another day. That way, school would not have to be cancelled.
As of yet, I have not heard any of the school districts say the day will be made up. It will simply be one less day of instruction. One less day for students who need to learn. One less day of pay for staff who work at schools. And one more day for parents to juggle childcare and schedules.
NCAE describes the day as an “Advocacy Day.” The organization is working hard to paint North Carolina into another Arizona or Oklahoma or West Virginia. NCAE says teachers need better pay and overall spending levels must increase. Some facts might get in the way of these arguments.
Since 2014-15, many teachers have received average pay increases of 7.0, 2.1, 4.7 and 3.3 percent. The average salary of a teacher in North Carolina is $51,214. According to the Census Bureau, median household income in North Carolina in 2016 was $48,256.
State appropriations for education have increased every year since 2011 and so have expenditures. Last year K-12 public schools spent $13.1 billion, — up from $11.8 billion in 2010-11. Of the $13.1 billion in spending, $8.9 billion was from state government.
NCAE members have a right to express their opinions on education issues. However, I don’t think you will find many North Carolinians who support closing public schools to accomplish this.