Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials offered a bit of a surprise last Friday to parents: Students are getting a day off May 16 because more than 2,000 CMS teachers will be in Raleigh for a statewide protest about their paychecks and working conditions.
Meanwhile, Wake County school officials haven't canceled school, and teachers who take a day off to head to the same protests will apparently have to pay a standard $50 fee for taking a personal day. (Update 1:45 p.m.: Wake officials announced moments ago that they'll follow suit and close schools.)
Good for CMS.
It's no secret that school officials across the state would like to see N.C. lawmakers find more money for teachers. Despite all the backpatting from Republicans for raising teacher pay recently, the state still ranks 37th in the country. School officials, and most everyone else, know that paying teachers more would keep them in the classroom instead of encouraging them to leave for other states or other careers. It also would make them happier, which is good for everyone, including our children.
To that end, the protest itself is important. Regardless of whether it results in legislative action — as protests did in Oklahoma and Arizona — allowing teachers a penalty-free day in Raleigh gives them an opportunity to be a part of something bigger instead of feeling isolated and frustrated at home. It's one thing for CMS Superintendent Clayton Wilcox and the school board to voice their support for employees. It's something different to show you care, especially when doing so might be inconvenient for many.
That's what a good boss does. Wilcox and the board got this one right. We hope all N.C. school districts follow suit.