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Roundup Results: What are the most effective ways for citizens to be heard in the policymaking process?

Early April saw a string of teacher strikes and protests, from Oklahoma to Arizona and Kentucky. Teachers were speaking out on issues like having to take on multiple jobs due to their low teacher pay, funding cuts for schools, and more. On Thursday, Oklahoma teachers won a raise of about $6,000 after a nine-day walkout. The same day, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey pledged to raise teacher pay through 2020. The strikes follow on the heels of the West Virginia teacher strike, which shut down schools until the legislature granted teachers a five percent pay raise in March. 

With this topic in mind, Reach NC Voices asked North Carolinians for their opinion in our April 5 Reach Roundup newsletter. We posed our Question of the Week: “This week teachers in Oklahoma and Kentucky went on strike. What are the most effective ways for citizens to be heard in the policymaking process?” Response options included: meet with policymakers, media outreach and social media, strike or nonviolent protest, run for office, or other.

Here’s the breakdown of how participants answered our question as well as some of the comments we received.

“When the people making decisions about education policy are choosing to defund and defame our public schools instead of lift them up, we need organized parents and educators to have enough power to demand the schools our kids deserve.”
Respondent from Greensboro

“We must continue to hold our legislators accountable for their actions and demand that they serve their constituents’ interests, not their own.”
Respondent from Durham

“If striking and nonviolent protests are the only way to get that media coverage, I support the teachers who do that. Teachers shouldn’t have to pay for or ask parents for basic classroom supplies or any resources they deem necessary for their lessons. They also should not have to be paid so little that they have to take on additional jobs.”
Respondent from Charlotte

“I moved from Waukegan, Illinois. My last year, we were on strike the ENTIRE month of October! It’s the only way the District would hear us! We NEED a UNION in this state!”
Teacher from Lumberton

“My choice is: find a local candidate you believe in, get to know that person one-on-one, work for them, get them elected.”
Respondent from Fayetteville

Interested in participating in Reach NC Voices? You can sign up to share your thoughts on our weekly questions. We’d love to hear from you!

Yasmin Bendaas

Yasmin Bendaas is a Science writer.  A North Carolina native, she received her master’s degree in Science & Medical Journalism at UNC Chapel Hill, where she was a Park Fellow. She received her Bachelor of Arts in anthropology in 2013 from Wake Forest University, where she double-minored in journalism and Middle East and South Asia studies. As an undergraduate student, Bendaas gained insight into public health when she interned at the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, a statewide grantmaker focused on rural health, including access to primary care, diabetes, community-centered prevention, and mental health and substance abuse. 

As a journalist, Bendaas has been funded twice by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for fieldwork in Algeria — first to cover a disappearing indigenous tattoo tradition, and again to look at how climate change affects rural sheepherding practices.