Western North Carolina teachers hold satellite march in solidarity with Raleigh rally

Photo/video credit: WLOS Staff

Thousands of teachers are marching the streets of North Carolina’s capital Wednesday, in a showdown over wages and funding priorities for public school classrooms.

Both Buncombe County and Asheville City Schools made the decision last week to close for an optional teacher work day so that teachers could attend the rally.

In a showing of solidarity, educators who were unable to make the trip to Raleigh held their own satellite march in Asheville.

Teachers, families and supporters gathered at 10 a.m. at the Block to make signs and organize.

Attendees will walk to Vance Monument downtown where several people will speak.

Previous strikes, walkouts and protests in West Virginia, Arizona, Kentucky, Colorado and Oklahoma have led legislators in each state to improve pay, benefits or overall school funding.

Wednesday's rally in North Carolina prompted three-dozen school districts that educate more than two-thirds of the state's 1.5 million public school students to cancel class.

The teachers' group favors a proposal by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to raise salaries by stopping planned tax cuts on corporations and high-income households.

However, state Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, both Republicans, have made clear they have no plans to funnel more money to classrooms by postponing January's planned tax cuts, including one for what is already one of the country's lowest corporate income taxes.

North Carolina teachers earn an average salary of about $50,000, ranking them 39th in the country last year, the National Education Association reported last month. Their pay increased by 4.2 percent over the previous year — the second-biggest increase in the country — and was estimated to rise an average 1.8 percent this year, the NEA said. But the union points out that that still represents a 9.4 percent slide in real income since 2009 due to inflation.

News 13 has a crew at Pack Square Park and will have much more on this march tonight.