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Teachers descend on downtown Raleigh

Yesterday, teachers marched on downtown Raleigh with a list of demands, including more school support staff, better pay for all school employees — and a $15 minimum wage for all school personnel — Medicaid expansion, restoration of state retiree health benefits for teachers hired after 2021, and a restoration of master's pay for teachers. At least 34 districts closed school in advance of the rally, and House legislators hunkered down in the General Assembly debating the House budget during the House appropriations committee, which ran all day with only a two-hour break midday. EducationNC covered the rally throughout the day and updated this post with the latest news.

The logistics for the march:

  • 8:30 a.m.: Buses begin to arrive at NCAE HQ (700 S. Salisbury St., Raleigh)
  • 10 a.m.: Pre-rally begins at NCAE HQ
  • 10:30 a.m.: March begins
  • 12:30 p.m.: Rally begins on Halifax Mall
  • 1:30 p.m.: Regional legislative meetings begin
  • 2:30 p.m.: Event ends
  • 3:30 p.m.: Buses pick-up at NCAE HQ

EducationNC covered the rally throughout the day and updated this post with the latest news. Follow us on Twitter for updates.

Updated 6:12 p.m.

As the rally wound down, lawmakers huddled in the House appropriations committee discussing a budget plan that touches upon many of the marcher’s demands. Throughout the day, rally-goers stopped in to watch the proceedings. The committee continued after the rally ended as lawmakers worked through 38 amendments. 

Updated at 2:59 p.m.

Rev. Dr. William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, addressed the educators gathered for the rally.

“If we invest in our teachers and our children, they will all succeed. Coretta Scott King said denying funding for education is a form of political violence,” said Barber. “And so my friends, you are right morally to be here. But not only are you right morally to be here, you are right constitutionally to be here.”

Barber also led the rally in a series of chants.

Updated at 1:27 p.m.

EdNC reporter Robert Kinlaw followed crowds of teachers as they marched towards the capitol. Here’s a view from above the rally.

Updated at 1:16 p.m.

EdNC reporter Rupen Fofaria caught up with State Superintendent Mark Johnson during the State Board of Education meeting. Ahead of the rally, Johnson sent out messages at least twice asking educators not to hold the event on a school day.

“I adamantly want to separate my criticism of the organizers from the teachers who we absolutely support. We’re working hard for teachers. You see that in the pay increases, you see that in more funding for school safety, and for classroom supplies,” said Johnson. “Again, the organizers should not have done this on a school day. It could have been just as impactful on a day after school let out over the summer, you could have had just as big a crowd. It could have been here at the same time the General Assembly was here, and it wouldn’t have caused so much hardships around the state with closing school.”

Johnson said he stepped outside earlier to speak with teachers attending the rally, and plans to step out again after the State Board of Education meeting concludes. He added that, during spring break, he opened his office to teachers and met with them then.

“I do hope to have more productive conversations. Whether or not it’s today, you know, our office is always open. I try to get around the entire state as much as I can to hear from teachers,” said Johnson. “And we’ve used technology like never before to truly engage every single teacher to make sure every teacher has a voice when we are talking about the policies that we’re pushing for in the General Assembly.”

Updated at 1:10 p.m.

Governor Roy Cooper took the stage during the rally. 

He addressed the shooting at UNC Charlotte, saying he is heading there following the rally.

“This violence is all too common in our country. It can happen anywhere — and unfortunately, it often does. We are devastated that it has happened here,” said Cooper. “We must work for a day when no student, no teacher, no parent is fearful for their safety at a school or anywhere else, for that matter.”

Cooper went on to call for more school nurses and counselors, modern and safe classrooms, and more respect for the work of teachers.

“We know teachers care more about outcomes than incomes, that’s why we say it so much,” said Cooper.

Updated at 12:44 p.m.

Teachers hold signs on Halifax mall. Alex Granados/EducationNC

The rally is underway on Halifax mall. The State Board of Education is also meeting today.

We caught up with the 2018 North Carolina Teacher of the Year, Freebird McKinney.

Updated at 11:26 a.m.

Senator Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, published a press release saying that, of the thousands of teachers expected to rally in Raleigh today, only 18 requests were made to meet with Republican senators.

“Of the thousands of people who will be here, hardly any scheduled meetings with legislators. This is not advocacy. This is not a ‘work day.’ This is a political rally for Democrats that’s keeping nearly one million kids out of school,” said Hise.

The NC Democratic Party released a statement from chair Wayne Goodwin in support of the rally.

“North Carolina Democrats support our educators as they march for the respect that they, their students, and their schools deserve. For nearly a decade, public education in our state has been underfunded leaving less staff, fewer resources, and low morale — all at the expense of our children.

Democrats are committed to treating education like the priority it is. That’s why Governor Cooper’s budget provides $40 million for school health professionals and would make North Carolina teachers the highest paid in the southeast within four years. And that’s why Democratic legislators have proposed bills to expand Medicaid and boost paychecks for school bus drivers, custodians, and cafeteria workers.

North Carolina Democrats stand with our educators today and every day. While Republican leaders attack, deceive, and try to silence teachers, we look forward to listening to teachers’ concerns and working with them to improve North Carolina’s public education system.”

Updated at 10:58 a.m.

Teachers have made their way to the General Assembly, with some waiting to enter the building. 

Updated at 10:39 a.m.

Rallying teachers march toward the capital (Fayetteville Street in Raleigh, 10:45 a.m.) Robert Kinlaw/EducationNC

The march has begun and teachers are making their way north on Fayetteville Street.

Updated at 9:18 a.m.

Mark Jewell, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators, said educators are ready to march to the General Assembly to ask legislators to “reinvest in public education.”

Updated at 8:52 a.m.

Educators clad in red T-shirts have started to arrive at the North Carolina Association of Educators headquarters in downtown Raleigh and outside of the General Assembly.

Inside the General Assembly, House legislators have kicked off the House appropriations committee meeting to discuss the budget. They plan to take a mid-day break to allow legislators time to meet with teachers.

Alex Granados

Alex Granados was the senior reporter for EducationNC from December 2014-March 2023.

Greg Asciutto

Formally trained in digital journalism, Greg Asciutto teaches and manages English department operations at Garinger High School in Charlotte. Outside of the classroom, Asciutto works in the field of poverty alleviation, specifically as it intersects with public mental health and homelessness. As a North Carolina native, his vision is to build regional partnerships that foster economic opportunities for local youth and their families.

Analisa Sorrells

Analisa Sorrells is a Master in Public Policy candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School and previously worked as chief of staff and associate director of policy for EducationNC.

Rupen Fofaria

Rupen Fofaria was the equity and learning differences reporter for EducationNC from 2018 through October 2023.

Robert Kinlaw

Robert was director of multimedia for EducationNC. He is a journalist and award-winning documentary filmmaker in the Triangle. Robert attended both public and private grade schools in North Carolina and graduated from the Media and Journalism school at UNC-Chapel Hill. He has produced video content for The News & Observer, ABC11-WTVD, UNC-Chapel Hill, The News Reporter and more. His short documentary Princess Warrior received an Excellence in Filmmaking award at the 2017 Carrboro Film Festival. Visit his website at