NC educators group seeks $15 per hour for school workers and ending state-funded school vouchers

By Holden Kurwicki

RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina Association of Educators and State Superintendent Catherine Truitt seem to agree that change is necessary to improve our children’s education, but that doesn’t mean they’re on the same page as to how to go about it.

“We don’t want to put our school personnel in unsafe positions,” said NCAE President Tamika Walker-Kelly.

The NCAE is calling for more support staff in schools, a minimum wage of $15 for school employees, and reinstating masters pay for educators.

“Our classified staff has been our frontline school personnel in delivering meals and driving our buses,” said Walker-Kelly. “It’s critically important that we raise the minimum wage for those staff workers because they’re exposing themselves to COVID-19.

In order to accomplish those goals Walker-Kelly is calling on the state to tap into its rainy-day fund, and an end of state funded school vouchers.

“We don’t support taking public dollars for private entities,” said Walker-Kelly.

“To think that they would rather slam the schoolhouse door in the face of 14,000 North Carolina students, mostly from low-income households, in the middle of the COVID pandemic is beyond me,” said Mike Long, President of Parents for Educational Freedom of North Carolina.

“You know what’s missing from the list,” asked Lauren Horsch a spokesperson for Sen. Phil Berger’s office. “Returning children to the classroom.”

“We need that same energy to make sure that educators get vaccines, and that schools have enough PPE and funding to make sure we can all return safely,” said Walker-Kelly.

In a release North Carolina Superintendent Catherine Truitt says that she’s working with the North Carolina Board of Education on a plan to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic impact on schools but offered few details on what that means.

“This isn’t rocket science,” said Long. “This is focusing on the problems, and finding solutions to those problems, so we can get our kids and our teachers back into our classrooms.”

Walker-Kelly says the NCAE me she has yet to hear from Truitt, who is expected to release her full plan to the General Assembly on Thursday.