Today the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS), North Carolina’s largest public school district, announced that it will be closed on May 1st. The decision essentially allows teachers and other staff the day off to participate in the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) rally at the General Assembly on May 1, without penalty or cost.
WCPSS is one of seven districts across North Carolina that have announced their intention to close for the rally. Last year 42 school districts – including Wake County – closed for the scheduled NCAE rally.
Let’s call the May event what it is — a political rally.
NCAE President, Mark Jewell used the event to organize and get his organization mobilized for last fall’s elections. And the organization hasn’t been shy about using rallies to do so.
Of course, NCAE members had an entire year to talk to their legislators and local school board members about concerns. But those discussions don’t make the evening news or help to mobilize.
Several parents have told me about messages they’ve received from WCPSS about not missing school, emphasizing the importance of every school day. I agree.
A decision to close schools for a political rally puts a hollow ring in such exhortations.
Of course, WCPSS teachers have every right to express their views. But they don’t have the right to force the shutdown of multiple school systems across North Carolina, forcing children to miss another day of school. This upends the schedules of parents across the state – likely costing taxpayers in the millions of dollars.
If teachers and school district choose to go that route, they shouldn’t be surprised at the anger their actions have generated in many parents. Many parents believe there are many reasons why closing school for a political rally is the wrong way to express those opinions.
That NCAE is coordinating a statewide rally in Raleigh on a school day in May, to lobby the legislature, tells you exactly what NCAE is concerned about.
And it’s not the children.