As a long-time supporter of public education who has followed the far right's efforts to privatize education in North Carolina, I was a low-level participant in the Teachers March on Raleigh. I drove a support car, carrying water, fruit, protein bars and band aids, and accompanied one line of the teachers as they marched to Raleigh on Tuesday and Wednesday. I watched them struggle through the heat and humidity, slogging up hills, wiping away sweat. All they talked about for all that time was taking care of their kids.
As someone involved closely with this event I want to make it known that AT NO TIME DID ANYONE EVER MENTION ATTORNEY GENERAL ROY COOPER. Neither Mr. Cooper or anyone involved with his campaign played any role whatsoever in plans for this march.
The teachers and school employees who marched are dedicated individuals who have watched day after day, year after year, while the extreme right wing of our NCGA has enacted legislation that harms children attending our schools. We have almost 25% of our kids living in POVERTY. Real Poverty. These teachers see children every day who come to school dressed inappropriately for the weather, who have not had breakfast, or dinner the night before, who are in need of medical treatment.
It is well known that the expansion of Medicaid would help the poor, including their children, with medical services and mental health services. But teachers have watched NCGA refuse to make this service available to North Carolina's poor. Teachers know a bill currently in the legislature would take money given to public schools by the Federal Government to defray the costs of free school lunches and give it to charter schools WHO DO NOT EVEN PROVIDE ANY LUNCH AT ALL to their students. One teacher at the rally told me she helped teach a civics course last year and the text book used listed Tip O'Neill as the Speaker of the House. Many districts have no text books at all that kids can take home to use in study. There is even a bill that would make it a Class 1 Misdemeanor for a teacher to "publicly speak about public education."
And you wonder why they march? You wonder why they are willing to risk arrest to draw attention to what is happening in their classrooms?
Allow me to stand in witness to counter the governor's official statement regarding the march.
"Roy Cooper's union-funded campaign surrogates blocked traffic in downtown Raleigh today during rush hour after rejecting an offer to meet with the governor's senior advisors.
"The NCAE union bosses behind today's demonstration have endorsed Roy Cooper. But as attorney general, Roy Cooper is North Carolina's chief law enforcement officer.
"Not only did this demonstration inconvenience drivers, it wasted law enforcement resources during rush hour.
"If Roy Cooper is in charge of enforcing the law in North Carolina, why would he send his campaign surrogates to break it?"
Were some driver's inconvenienced yesterday, when frustrated teachers stepped out and blocked traffic? Certainly. Are North Carolina students and teachers and the parents who vote 'inconvenienced' with inadequate supply budgets, lack of textbooks, what seems to be regular shifts in curriculum, loss of instructional assistants in classrooms, larger class sizes??? Yes. And they have been 'inconvenienced' in this manner year after year after year.
The people participating in the march were the planners. Some of us came in as volunteer support. The only political motivation involved belongs to those who want to turn public education into a revenue stream for private business. THAT is where the politics comes in.