Thousands of teachers in North Carolina are demanding higher pay and better funding for public schools. But others, like "Fair pay now", took a more stern approach. An estimated 19,000 people joined the march, according to the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, which based its number in part on aerial photos.
While teachers need money to survive, most say the love for educating students drew them to the profession, not the pay check. "If I'm going to teach civics there's no better real world experience that being out here and using my voice and my rights as a voter and as a citizen exercising my civic duty to advocate for myself and colleagues and neighbors and my students and our communities across rural North Carolina".
"I truly believe the educators came today to get the respect they deserve", Rep. Garland Pierce said. "I hope it really, truly does make a difference". "I mean we're treated like a stepchild and we are the professionals that make the professionals".
Rally-goers in their red shirts streamed into the legislative building, where the General Assembly began its short session today, filling chamber galleries and the lobby.
"We all had the same story, crumbling buildings, no supplies, lack of teacher assistants", Trujillo said. No arrests were made.
It would raise teacher salaries by putting a stop to planned tax cuts for corporations and high income households. Republican leaders have flatly rejected his idea but an incensed crowd sided with Cooper as they chanted his name and pushed through crowds of people to shake his hand.
"We trust you as teachers". "We need to do better for our public schools".
Cooper said the event also touched a personal note for him.
"I'm a grandmother, not a thug", said Ira Reed. "I know several teachers (like myself) that hold politicians accountable on their social media platforms, fighting their fuzzy math with facts".
"My expectations with education funding is that it puts the student first while trying to meet the needs of teachers", she said.
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The teachers are supporting a measure being pushed by the democratic governor.
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 US territory struggles to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria in September.
The state's main teacher advocacy group, the North Carolina Association of Educators, demands legislators increase per-pupil spending to the national average in four years, increase school construction for a growing state, and approve a multiyear pay raise for teachers and school support staff to bring incomes to the national average.
The windows of many GOP legislators were covered with signs and pamphlets promoting a website - www.ncteacherraise.com - for how teachers could track years' worth of pay and other compensation raises.
North Carolina teachers earn an average salary of about $50,000, making them 39th in the country a year ago, the National Education Association reported last month.
"I actually asked (Sen.) Trudy Wade what was the plan to get per-pupil spending to the national average and she walked away", Warren said.
On Tuesday, North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore said that budget leaders in the House and Senate are ready to approve at least a 6.2 percent increase in teacher salaries for the next year.
Information from The Associated Press is included this report.
Amy Buchen, a first-grade educator at Brassfield Elementary School in Raleigh, says she was amazed by the huge community that formed in the wake of this morning's protests.
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