Group urging Wake teachers to walk in and not walk out Nov. 4

khui@newsobserver.com ahelms@charlotteobserver.comOctober 16, 2013 

The group representing Wake County’s teachers is urging educators to abandon a proposed Nov. 4 walk-out in favor of coming to work that day and meeting with the public to talk about ways to improve education.

Teachers across the state have been talking online about not showing up for work on Nov. 4 to protest issues such as low pay, loss of tenure and working conditions. But the Wake County chapter of the N.C. Association of Educators says teachers can have more of an impact if they have a walk-in as opposed to a walk-out on Nov. 4.

“Starting a community dialogue with parents on Nov. 4 is better than antagonizing them and overburdening administrators by walking out,” Larry Nilles, president of Wake NCAE, said Wednesday.

The walk-in appears to be building statewide momentum.

Rodney Ellis, president of the N.C. Association of Educators, said the group planned to invite elected officials, business leaders and others into schools the week of Nov. 18 for American Education Week, but some local branches are moving the date to Nov. 4 to counteract the walkout.

A spokeswoman for the Iredell-Statesville school system, located between Winston-Salem and Charlotte, said other districts have contacted them about their plan to invite people to visit and volunteer Nov. 4 to learn more about the work teachers do.

None of the groups that represent teachers are endorsing the walk-out. But Nilles said they’re proud of the work that the organizers of the walk-out have done.

“They drew attention to the frustrations of public school employees and the damage done to public schools during the 2013 session of the North Carolina General Assembly,” Nilles said.

But on Nov. 4, Nilles said, Wake NCAE is asking educators, parents and students to wear red and hold a brief rally at each school’s main entrance before classes begin.

After school, Nilles said, educators should meet with parents, community leaders and students to discuss the state of education. They’re asking people to sign a petition urging the state to raise per-pupil spending to the national average, hire more teachers to reduce class size and restore teacher assistant positions that were cut.

“There are a lot of parents and people who don’t have children in school who are concerned about what is happening to the public schools,” Nilles said.

The idea of having a walk-in drew praise from school leaders who don’t want to deal with the nightmare of finding so many substitute teachers on Nov. 4.

“I can tell you with 10,000, I think, certified teachers in Wake County, if you were to all walk out, that would present a huge problem to us and to all the parents,” Wake County school board Chairman Keith Sutton told Nilles at Tuesday’s school board meeting. “So thank you for the positive and thoughtful response to this event.”

Hui: 919-829-4534

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