Chatham teachers join ‘Day of Action’ rally in Raleigh

Posted 5/10/19

Multiple Chatham County teachers were among the thousands who marched in Raleigh May 1 in support of five initiatives related to public education.

Dawn Streets and Malinda Quinn, both social …

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Chatham teachers join ‘Day of Action’ rally in Raleigh

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Multiple Chatham County teachers were among the thousands who marched in Raleigh May 1 in support of five initiatives related to public education.

Dawn Streets and Malinda Quinn, both social studies teachers at Margaret B. Pollard Middle School in Chapel Hill, were among the educators who took the day off to participate in the North Carolina Association of Educators’ “Day of Action,” a march in downtown Raleigh and a rally outside of the state legislature building.

“We have lawmakers whose actions do not support public education,” said Quinn, who teaches sixth grade. “Tax dollars have been taken from the public schools and given to private ones. Public schools have worked on smaller and smaller funds each year which means not purchasing textbooks, learning resources, or other supplies. I went to Raleigh because I hear so much incorrect information in the media and wanted others to be aware of this.”

Quinn was quick to mention that she appreciates the Chatham County Boards of Commissioners and Education help in supplementing “some...funding gaps” left by the state, but said that “many other districts are not so fortunate.” In the 2018-2019 budget year, the Chatham County government provided the sixth-highest county-level funding per pupil to its public schools in the state.

The NCAE listed five goals of the event, among them increasing the schools’ minimum wage to $15 an hour and meeting national standards for support positions like social workers, counselors and nurses. Streets referenced those positions are one of her main motivations for attending.

“I feel strongly that we must provide more support staff, that our custodians and bus drivers receive a competitive salary, that teachers with advanced degrees receive appropriate compensation, that teachers receive the same level of respect as other professionals, and, ultimately, that all students have equal access to a top-notch education,” she said. “Ideally, our voices absolutely will be heard and important action taken.”

Quinn said Chatham’s state representatives — Rep. Robert Reives II and Sen. Valerie Foushee, both Democrats — took time to “express support” for the teachers. Both legislators posted messages on social media in support of the rally. Foushee posted a photo of herself and Reives with some rally attendees.

“There may be no single issue more important than equitable education of our children,” Foushee wrote the day before the event. “If we can’t come together on this, we can’t come together on this, we can’t come together on anything. I stand with teachers, students and parents who, like me, want the best for their children.”

Reives, wearing a red tie to match the shirts worn by those rallying, posted a video to his Facebook account in support of the educators who marched.

“We all know that education is the great equalizer and the key to unlocking untold potential in our young people,” he said. “We also know that these young people are our state’s most valuable resource. That’s why I’m wearing red in support. That’s why I am committed to supporting education as we move to develop the budget this session.”

Both Streets and Quinn said they attended last year’s event and would go again in the future.

“As a Social Studies teacher I must practice what I preach,” Streets said. “An important goal of Social Studies is to educate about government processes, the reciprocal relationship between government and the people, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. My participation in the rally is not about personal gain. It is solely about support of one or our most important societal institutions — public education.”

Reach Reporter Zachary Horner by email at zhorner@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.

My participation in the rally is not about personal gain. It is solely about support of one or our most important societal institutions — public education.

Dawn Streets, social studies teacher, Margaret B Pollard Middle School

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