May 15, 2018, 6:54 PM ET

More than 1 million students to miss school as teacher revolt sweeping nation heads to new state


A wave of teacher revolts sweeping the nation is set to hit North Carolina on Wednesday as thousands of educators are expected to swarm the state's capital in a quest for higher pay and more money for education.

The scheduled one-day walkout has prompted school districts across the state to cancel classes for Wednesday, leaving more than 1 million students with an unexpected day off.

PHOTO: A crowd listens to speakers on a stage, lower right, during a teacher rally to protest low student funding at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, April 2, 2018.Sue Ogrocki/AP, FILE
A crowd listens to speakers on a stage, lower right, during a teacher rally to protest low student funding at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, April 2, 2018.

The labor action is the latest in a string of teacher uprisings across the country this year that have prompted strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona. Educators in Kentucky and Colorado have also taken action, staging walkouts and sick-outs in hopes of pressuring lawmakers to stop a decade of cuts in education funding the teachers say have hurt students.

In Puerto Rico, thousands of teachers walked out of classes in March to protest the cash-strapped government's plan to shut down more than 300 schools this year as the unincorporated U.S. territory struggles to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria in September.

Mark Jewell, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators, said up to 15,000 teachers are expected to march and rally at the state Capitol in Raleigh on Wednesday morning.

The teachers will be marching "to let our General Assembly know and our elected policymakers that this is really about accountability," he said.

The North Carolina educators say their top goal is to get legislators to increase annual per-pupil funding, which is currently about $9,329, according to a 2018 report by the National Education Association.

"We are currently about $2,400 below the national average in how we fund our public school children," Jewell said at a news conference in Raleigh on Monday.

North Carolina teachers are calling for higher pay. The average salary for teachers in the state is $49,970, or about $9,000 below the national average, Jewell said.

The educators also want their lawmakers to fork over money to fix crumbling schools and fund 500 school counselors, social workers and psychologists.

PHOTO: Teachers walk in together as they arrive for work at San Marcos Elementary School, May 4, 2018, in Chandler, Ariz., after a statewide teachers strike ended.Matt York/AP
Teachers walk in together as they arrive for work at San Marcos Elementary School, May 4, 2018, in Chandler, Ariz., after a statewide teachers strike ended.

"We have not had a textbook adoption in 15 years. We have school districts deciding whether or not to pay the light bill or buy toilet paper," Jewell said. "We have classrooms ... that are 35 students and higher in some instances. This is not normal. This is not the North Carolina way."

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has proposed boosting teacher pay 8 percent and up to 14.8 percent for educators with at least 25 years of experience. The state's Republican-dominated General Assembly is calling for raises in the average of 5 to 6 percent.

"North Carolina should treat educators like the professionals they are," Cooper told reporters last week. "They shouldn't have to take to the streets to get the respect they deserve."

The rally will also kick off a six-month push to elect leaders in November who will support education funding, Jewell said.

"Our end game, obviously, is Nov. 6 when we elect pro-public education policymakers to the General Assembly," Jewell said.

ABC News’ Santina Leuci contributed to this report.

News - More than 1 million students to miss school as teacher revolt sweeping nation heads to new state

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  • John V. Wood

    I DESPISE THIS HEADLINE! Why in the world do you paint teachers as the villains in this story?

  • SKV

    merit based pay... Your school system is a joke. Technology companies struggle to fill >$100K
    positions and hire immigrants or outsourcing. At
    the same time average US kid just cannot tackle STEM at college due to poor
    school education.

  • Betty Bloop

    these teacher walk outs have all been in republican states....maybe the effort to dismantle public education isn't going too well.

  • Bob

    Another red state which has refused to fund education and teachers. Hardline Republicans adamantly opposed to making the rich pay more and saddling middle class voters with the task of filling in for the rich

  • Blkhawksgrl

    Better hurry school is almost out for summer

  • UniqueCD

    I'm sorry, when you go to school for a profession, you have in mind the average salary for that profession (or you should know)
    I can't just decide 5 years into it, I don't like the pay scale and go on strike.
    Grow up and get back to work....

  • Knute

    Apparently teachers don't work for the children, their schools, their district, their local community, or even their state. They are national employees lobbying for a political party. Thus let the Federal Government pay them with Unemployment Compensation.

  • Solanum

    I'm all for teachers being paid more, but in these articles re: teacher protests I do wish the authors would give stats on where all of the state's employees rank compared to others, not just teachers. And where the state ranks in terms of cost of living. It would be very helpful in judging just how bad things are for the teachers. But again, teachers should all be paid more, and given a classroom stipend that actually covers classroom needs.

  • Knute

    We need a law to make it illegal for teachers to buy any class room supplies. That would prevent teachers from shutdown schools over this issue.

  • Arc_Fault_One

    Tax payers in each state have to pay for any changes but I've yet to see anything coming up for a vote.

  • Eric Schramm

    I notice that since they are walking to the capitols, nobody is talking about giving teachers guns anymore.

  • Matthew Meyer

    Why couldn't they do this on a Saturday or Sunday, or waited 4 weeks until school was out instead of walking out on the children? If they weren't asking for a pay hike I'd be more sympathetic but this isn't just about the children. I'm a detective with 11 years of experience and I make far less than what the average teacher makes, I think all the police officers should do a walk out. It would be like the movie Purge...

  • sixstrings

    in any of these walk-outs and other protests, have the teachers actually articulated how much money they want to be paid?

    i understand they say what they make isn't enough, but have they said what is enough in concrete terms as in a teacher with X years of service and X degrees/credentials should make $X?

    it's one thing to continually complain that your pay isn't enough, but it's not very informative if you never say how much is actually enough.

  • Maybe, Maybe Not

    This whole teacher pay discussion needs to include the realization that some teachers are so grossly incompetent that they'd be overpaid at minimum wage. That's one of the main reasons for the deplorable condition of our schools. My mom was a teacher for 40-plus years and she'd be the first to tell you this. If we raise the pay of teachers, we also need to implement higher standards for becoming one.

    And, of course, the low pay is also partly to blame for the problem of teacher incompetence. If teachers were paid more, then the profession would draw more of the best and brightest to it. As it is, not many of the best and brightest are going to go into teaching instead of more lucrative careers.

  • Youcan'thandlethetruth

    The lack of respect for teachers and education in general has reached its boiling point! Only in this country do we treat teachers with such disrespect!

  • Andrew

    Well, the good people of North Carolina will never give a decent wage to teachers as long as republicans are in power. The scrooge-like republicans are hypocrites of the highest order.

  • jake

    An easy solution to this problem is to determine who in the government does not want to fund schools in their state. Those that do not wish fund schools properly should not be allowed to send their children to these schools and instead should homeschool them. But then maybe many of these legislators send their kids to private schools so they don't want to pay for public education for somebody else's kids.

  • Trumpanning

    Trump truly does like the poorly educated, as do most would be dictators. Anything he can do to keep people poorly educated, especially the lower to middle classes, is on the table.

  • Progressives Progress

    Good for them Stand strong!