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CMS teachers rally for better pay and conditions the day after mass Raleigh gathering

About 30 CMS teachers rallied Thursday morning in Marshall Park, a day after thousands of teachers mobbed Raleigh to demand higher pay and more state spending on education.
About 30 CMS teachers rallied Thursday morning in Marshall Park, a day after thousands of teachers mobbed Raleigh to demand higher pay and more state spending on education. bhenderson@charlotteobserver.com

A small number of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teachers rallied for more state spending on education Thursday morning, a day after thousands mobbed Raleigh to lobby state legislators on a mass scale.

About 30 teachers in red T-shirts gathered at uptown's Marshall Park. Most had taken personal or sick days for a second day after attending the Raleigh event, for which CMS closed Wednesday with 2,000 of its 9,000 teachers headed for the capitol.

"We'll probably have blow-back, but we're the brave ones," joked organizer Mario Black, who teaches social studies at Marie G. Davis Middle School. Black is also founder of the Million Youth March of Charlotte and Salisbury, which works against violence.

Legislators, Black said, seemed most interested Wednesday in getting the wave of fired-up teachers out of their building.

"You can't really say anything solidly was accomplished, because the legislators stopped their sessions," he said. "But to meet other educators in that sea of red, that was a beautiful thing."

It cost Hidden Valley Elementary third-grade teacher Corrin Hammer about $50, to pay a substitute teacher, to take a personal day Thursday . But Hammer said she's ready to go strike if that's needed to call attention to school needs.

She described classrooms in trailers propped on concrete blocks, leaky ceilings, no air conditioning in some classes and rats and mice that no one seems able to vanquish. Despite all that, Hammer said she doesn't regret her 27 years as a teacher, saying "the kids give me more joy than I could get at any other job."

The Raleigh march "might have opened some peoples' eyes," she said. "We did have massive (news coverage). If we continue this until November, I think we have a chance of changing what happens with education in North Carolina."

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051; @bhender
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