Raleigh teacher protest and its significance in the modern political climate

Matthew Roehm, Layout

North Carolina teachers and faculty from all corners of the state gathered to march on Raleigh on May 1st, protesting for school safety, higher wages and smaller class sizes. This is the second year in a row that teachers have assembled in the capital to demonstrate.

Teachers protest in Raleigh (Photo credit N&O)

This indicates a larger problem with the school system that still goes unresolved: disproportionate teacher pay. The amount of work, personal time and out of pocket money teachers put into teaching and school in general is not proportionate to the amount of money they make. As of today, the average teacher salary is about $54,000, which could be argued is slightly above average, but given how many teachers have families of their own and how much teachers have to spend out of pocket on school itself, it should be increased.

The average class size as of 2019 is about 34 students. That is 34 individuals that the teacher has to make sure are learning and doing their work. While it is the teacher’s job to teach, the large class sizes make it difficult for them to keep all aspects under control. Just trying to plan a lesson can be a daunting enough task, giving teachers all these responsibilities along with having their own issues due to the lack of pay is too much for such an important member of society. All of these smaller problems are indicative of a larger issue with the U.S.’s treatment of public education.

The issue seems to stem from a lack of interest, urgency and value for education in the U.S. Government. The neglect of the public school system and the people who keep it up and running has been a long standing issue in government since at least Bush in 2000 with his “No Child Left Behind” policy, and while many presidents have promised to reform and aid the public school system, none have managed to provide a fix for the situation in any kind of meaningful way. The U.S. seems to have other priorities, given the military defense budget of $598.5 billion, it should be safe to say that the government values other objectives over public education.

To make things worse, total funding for education is projected to decrease in 2020 to just 5.6% as opposed to the 6.1% it was at in 2010. While some might object, saying that 5.6% is more than enough to run the system, it is not enough to undo all the damage that poor funding and attention has done to public education.

Educating the future citizens of America is the kind of investment Capital Hill government officials should be interested in. Due to the known profitability of war and the opportunity for the exploitation of the countries it destabilizes, the U.S. has its financial grasp firmly locked on the controls of the war machine instead of investing in its own population’s future. For any sort of lasting change to occur, a fundamental shift of mindset must occur in the general population. Education must be valued higher and long term goals should be prioritized over quick profit.