PREFACE: Don’t know what Moral Monday is? Click here to find some articles concerning the North Carolina movement.
Yesterday I participated in my first protest at Halifax Mall in Raleigh. I’ve never really publicly protested anything in my life, at least nothing of great importance (let’s be serious, we’ve all protested bedtime at least once before), so I admit that I had my hesitations at first. Moral Mondays have been going on all summer long, and I would catch some coverage on the evening news and think, “That’s great, the legislators are dumb” and go on with my dinner making or Thought Catalog reading. It wasn’t until the budget was finally voted on and subsequently passed that I really started to realize how much was at stake for the progress North Carolina has achieved.
What’s at stake, you ask? Friends, I’ve read the bills (because I’m a super nerd). To save you from reading pages of silliness, here’s the SparkNotes version of what’s going on with the education budget in North Carolina.
I’m a public school teacher in a state where my career is currently under attack. The budget has been cut and educators across the state are losing jobs, benefits, and the respect they deserve as professionals.
Doesn’t that make you angry? It makes me angry. Ergo, I had to do something about it.
So I took a bus from Durham to Raleigh with a friend of mine (because I can’t handle big crowds alone — short people fears?) yesterday afternoon to embark on a pro-public-schools adventure. I figured this would be a pretty big rally considering it’s the last Raleigh-stationed Moral Monday.
Needless to say, I was accurate in my thinking.
We got to Halifax Mall and checked out the expanse that would soon be filled with people; people who want what’s best for our state of public education. While we surveyed our place of action, I soon realized how full my bladder was of water and began my quest for a bathroom.
Yes, “quest” is certainly an appropriate term here. This is what I get for trying to stay hydrated at a protest. Go. Figure.
The police wouldn’t let me use a bathroom in ANY of the government buildings, so basically I walked about a mile to find a restaurant with a bathroom. This instantly made me regret the running I did on the treadmill this morning.
Upon returning to Halifax Mall from what will now be known as the “bathroom hike,” a sea of red flooded the once empty expanse.
Wear RED for PUBLIC ED.
It was amazing to see so many people in a place supporting students and teachers across the state. I saw teachers from Durham, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Concord, Fayetteville, Wilmington, Asheville — educators from all across the state came to support public education.*
Listening to the speakers, I could feel electricity move throughout the crowd. People were excited. People were fired up. People held more than just signs, they held truths that projected into the sky.
First in Flight, Last in Rights.
This is TOO MUCH.
Support Our Teachers = Support Our Children!
NC Races to the Bottom and Everyone Loses
We chanted together and marched together and stood united as one voice to advocate for your children, our colleagues, and ourselves.
Despite the sadness that ensues in my heart for the state of education in my home state, I’m so grateful and happy to know that I have the right to stand up for something that means so much to me. Acting on my first amendment rights yesterday felt so empowering.
I won’t stop calling. I won’t stop writing. I won’t stop beseeching the legislators of North Carolina to pause and consider the damage they’re doing. Change like this doesn’t come about over night, so I’m relying on patience and persistence to make things happen.
My favorite sign yesterday read Strong Public Schools = Strong Democracy. As a teacher, I always try to model equality in my classroom and I always make sure to give my students the opportunity to voice their opinions. This is what our nation was founded on, is it not? Giving the people the power to participate in government? If we can demonstrate what that should look like in a classroom, then I’d say that’s a game-changer.
STRONG PUBLIC SCHOOLS = STRONG DEMOCRACY.
I’m sure there are great private schools and charter schools out there, but public school — y’all, that’s for everybody. That’s where money and a lottery number picked from a bucket don’t matter, and if you asked me, those things shouldn’t matter. Nothing should keep a child from a quality education.
Forward together, not one step back.
*People were not just supporting public education; many were also protesting voting rights, women’s rights, and environmental issues. This blog solely focuses on the public education aspect of the rally.