WJTV News Channel 12 - Wake Co. teacher plans statewide walkout

Wake Co. teacher plans statewide walkout

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

A group of teachers are hoping to gain assistance from the state government and parents through a planned walkout on Nov. 4.

The November 4th NC Teacher Walkout is about unifying the voice of teachers to initiate change, according to the walkout's website. 

Josh Hartman, a technology teacher in Wake County and an organizer of the event, said he is still earning a starting salary after working as a teacher in the county for six years.

Currently, one out of every nine teachers 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. 

Hartman said he is leaving the classroom to be a professional photographer in October because of his frustrations with pay.

"Teachers are leaving to do other things. I am one of them of those teachers," Hartman said.

He said he isn't sure how many teachers will participate in the walkout but has "received lots of anonymous emails." Around 40 teachers showed up to an organizational meeting for the walkout last week.

The website for the event states teachers do not have to walk out or call out of work to support the movement. Teachers are urged to attend town hall meetings, support rallies and spin-off groups filled with other teachers and parents.

Speaker Pro Tem Skip Stam said there is no chance teachers will walk out on their students.

"Our teachers are professionals and there's no chance that they're going to walk out on the kids who are there to learn and the kids that they have agreed to teach," Stam said. "It's not going to happen."

Stam said he is concerned about teacher pay, too.

"Over five years, all state employees, not just teachers, have only gotten a very small raise," Stam said. "We're doing the best we can. We're hoping we can have a significant raise next year."

Stam said walkouts are fairly common in states in the north but "very uncommon in North Carolina."

Students won't be the only ones directly affected by the potential walk out. But some parents aren't against the idea of it.

"They have had teachers meetings. They have protested. They have done everything and they're still not getting what they need," said Antoinette Lee, who has four children in the Wake County School System.

Lee said teachers are vital to the school system.

"I think they're just trying to get people to take them more seriously and try to show the importance that they are," said.

In case a walkout does occur, Wake County Schools has approximately 3,650 substitute teachers. Durham has 883 active substitutes and Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools have 254. Cumberland County Schools said the system has 1,683 substitutes. Orange County schools have 178 substitute teachers.

Wake, Durham, Cumberland and Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools all declined comment on the walkout.

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Justin Quesinberry

Justin is a reporter for WNCN and a North Carolina native. He has spent the better part of the last decade covering the news in central North Carolina.  More>>

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