North Carolina teachers rally for more funds in latest US school walkout

RALEIGH, N.C., May 16 (Reuters) - Thousands of North Carolina teachers were expected to rally at the capitol on Wednesday for higher pay and increased education spending in a walk-out that follows similar protests from teachers in other states seeking more money for schools.

The protests are part of a wave of actions and strikes this year by teachers in states including West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona and Colorado who feel lawmakers have failed to adequately pay teachers and provide for schools.

Up to 20,000 teachers and supporters are expected to march through downtown to the Republican-dominated legislature as it goes into session, organizers said.

At least 38 districts, representing more than half of the state’s 1.5 million public school students, canceled schools due to teacher absences, it said.

The North Carolina Association of Educators, which planned the event, is calling for per-student spending and teacher pay to be raised to at least the national average, and for lawmakers to restore funding for public schools to pre-recession levels.

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Issues leading to Okla. teachers' strike
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Issues leading to Okla. teachers' strike
Scott Teel talks about his classroom in a portable building in Moore, Oklahoma on April 4, 2018. Buoyed by a nine-day strike in West Virginia which led to a five percent pay raise, teachers have also walked off the job in Oklahoma and Kentucky and are threatening to do the same in Arizona. Teel pointed to lawmakers as the source of the problem, saying there has been a 'lack of vision about education from the state legislature.' Teel teaches history using 10-year-old books in a prefabricated trailer with peeling paint. There is no budget for a photocopier or staplers and Teel said parents and teachers dip into their pockets to provide supplies. / AFP PHOTO / J Pat Carter (Photo credit should read J PAT CARTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Scott Teel, a high school history teacher, carries a 'for sale' sign, as part of his second job as a real estate agent, in Moore, Oklahoma on April 4, 2018. Buoyed by a nine-day strike in West Virginia which led to a five percent pay raise, teachers have also walked off the job in Oklahoma and Kentucky and are threatening to do the same in Arizona. Teel pointed to lawmakers as the source of the problem, saying there has been a 'lack of vision about education from the state legislature.' Teel teaches history using 10-year-old books in a prefabricated trailer with peeling paint. There is no budget for a photocopier or staplers and Teel said parents and teachers dip into their pockets to provide supplies. / AFP PHOTO / J Pat Carter (Photo credit should read J PAT CARTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Scott Teel stands in front of his Moore, Oklahoma school sign on April 4, 2018. Buoyed by a nine-day strike in West Virginia which led to a five percent pay raise, teachers have also walked off the job in Oklahoma and Kentucky and are threatening to do the same in Arizona. Teel pointed to lawmakers as the source of the problem, saying there has been a 'lack of vision about education from the state legislature.' Teel teaches history using 10-year-old books in a prefabricated trailer with peeling paint. There is no budget for a photocopier or staplers and Teel said parents and teachers dip into their pockets to provide supplies. / AFP PHOTO / J Pat Carter (Photo credit should read J PAT CARTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Scott Teel walks the picket line during a teachers rally at the state capitol in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on April 4, 2018. Buoyed by a nine-day strike in West Virginia which led to a five percent pay raise, teachers have also walked off the job in Oklahoma and Kentucky and are threatening to do the same in Arizona. Teel pointed to lawmakers as the source of the problem, saying there has been a 'lack of vision about education from the state legislature.' Teel teaches history using 10-year-old books in a prefabricated trailer with peeling paint. There is no budget for a photocopier or staplers and Teel said parents and teachers dip into their pockets to provide supplies. / AFP PHOTO / J Pat Carter (Photo credit should read J PAT CARTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Scott Teel talks about his classroom in a portable building in Moore, Oklahoma on April 4, 2018. Buoyed by a nine-day strike in West Virginia which led to a five percent pay raise, teachers have also walked off the job in Oklahoma and Kentucky and are threatening to do the same in Arizona. Teel pointed to lawmakers as the source of the problem, saying there has been a 'lack of vision about education from the state legislature.' Teel teaches history using 10-year-old books in a prefabricated trailer with peeling paint. There is no budget for a photocopier or staplers and Teel said parents and teachers dip into their pockets to provide supplies. / AFP PHOTO / J Pat Carter (Photo credit should read J PAT CARTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Scott Teel talks about his classroom in a portable building in Moore, Oklahoma on April 4, 2018. Buoyed by a nine-day strike in West Virginia which led to a five percent pay raise, teachers have also walked off the job in Oklahoma and Kentucky and are threatening to do the same in Arizona. Teel pointed to lawmakers as the source of the problem, saying there has been a 'lack of vision about education from the state legislature.' Teel teaches history using 10-year-old books in a prefabricated trailer with peeling paint. There is no budget for a photocopier or staplers and Teel said parents and teachers dip into their pockets to provide supplies. / AFP PHOTO / J Pat Carter (Photo credit should read J PAT CARTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Scott Teel talks about his classroom in a portable building in Moore, Oklahoma on April 4, 2018. Buoyed by a nine-day strike in West Virginia which led to a five percent pay raise, teachers have also walked off the job in Oklahoma and Kentucky and are threatening to do the same in Arizona. Teel pointed to lawmakers as the source of the problem, saying there has been a 'lack of vision about education from the state legislature.' Teel teaches history using 10-year-old books in a prefabricated trailer with peeling paint. There is no budget for a photocopier or staplers and Teel said parents and teachers dip into their pockets to provide supplies. / AFP PHOTO / J Pat Carter (Photo credit should read J PAT CARTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Scott Teel talks about his classroom in a portable building in Moore, Oklahoma on April 4, 2018. Buoyed by a nine-day strike in West Virginia which led to a five percent pay raise, teachers have also walked off the job in Oklahoma and Kentucky and are threatening to do the same in Arizona. Teel pointed to lawmakers as the source of the problem, saying there has been a 'lack of vision about education from the state legislature.' Teel teaches history using 10-year-old books in a prefabricated trailer with peeling paint. There is no budget for a photocopier or staplers and Teel said parents and teachers dip into their pockets to provide supplies. / AFP PHOTO / J Pat Carter (Photo credit should read J PAT CARTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Scott Teel, a high school history teacher, posts a 'for sale' sign, as part of his second job as a real estate agent, in Moore, Oklahoma on April 4, 2018. Buoyed by a nine-day strike in West Virginia which led to a five percent pay raise, teachers have also walked off the job in Oklahoma and Kentucky and are threatening to do the same in Arizona. Teel pointed to lawmakers as the source of the problem, saying there has been a 'lack of vision about education from the state legislature.' Teel teaches history using 10-year-old books in a prefabricated trailer with peeling paint. There is no budget for a photocopier or staplers and Teel said parents and teachers dip into their pockets to provide supplies. / AFP PHOTO / J Pat Carter (Photo credit should read J PAT CARTER/AFP/Getty Images)
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“This is about so much more than teacher pay,” President Mark Jewell said in an interview, adding the group's long-term goal is ousting lawmakers who favor tax cuts for business at the expense of spending for education.

Republican leaders note this year’s planned salary increase of 6 percent would mark the fifth consecutive annual increase. While the state ranks 39th among states for average teacher salary in the most recent report by the National Education Association, it has seen some of the highest percent increases in recent years, they said

“Despite these facts, we know, there’s a lot of politically motivated rhetoric and misinformation out there,” Republican Senator Phil Berger, president pro tempore, said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Some Republicans criticized protesters for holding the rallies on a school day. Mark Brody, a Republican state representative from the Charlotte area, referred to organizers as “bullies and self-serving thugs” in a Facebook post.

Carolynn Phillips, teacher of the year for Brunswick County, said it is worth losing a school day for long-terms gains for the education system.

“This is nothing in comparison to what our state’s students have to gain by re-positioning education at the forefront of our priorities,” Phillips said in an interview.

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Oklahoma, Kentucky teachers walk out over pay
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Oklahoma, Kentucky teachers walk out over pay
FRANKFORT, KY - APRIL 2: Thousands of public school teachers and their supporters protest against a pension reform bill at the Kentucky State Capitol April 2, 2018 in Frankfort, Kentucky. The teachers are calling for higher wages and are demanding that Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin veto a bill that overhauls their pension plan. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 2: Elvin Lee, a teacher from Lawton, Oklahoma joints the teachers' rally at the state capitol on April 2, 2018 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Last week, Gov. Mary Fallin said teachers should come to the capitol to thank her for the raise. Thousands of teachers and supporters are scheduled to rally Monday at the state Capitol calling for higher wages and increased school funding. Teachers are walking off the job after a $6,100 pay raise was rushed through the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin. (Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images)
Oklahoma teachers rally outside the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S., April 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton
Thousands of Kentucky school teachers marched Monday, April 2, 2018 from the Kentucky Education Association's headquarters to the State Capitol in Frankfort, Ky. to protest legislative changes to their pensions and education cuts. Public schools in all 120 Kentucky counties were closed Monday, either to join in the protest or because of spring break. (Charles Bertram/Lexington Herald-Leader/TNS via Getty Images)
Oklahoma teachers rally outside the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S., April 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton
Oklahoma teachers rally outside the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S., April 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton
FRANKFORT, KY - APRIL 2: Public school teachers and their supporters protest against a pension reform bill at the Kentucky State Capitol April 2, 2018 in Frankfort, Kentucky. The teachers are calling for higher wages and are demanding that Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin veto a bill that overhauls their pension plan. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
Oklahoma teachers rally outside the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S., April 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton
Oklahoma teachers rally outside the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S., April 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton
FRANKFORT, KY - APRIL 2: Public school teachers and their supporters protest against a pension reform bill outside the senate chambers at the Kentucky State Capitol April 2, 2018 in Frankfort, Kentucky. The teachers are calling for higher wages and are demanding that Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin veto a bill that overhauls their pension plan. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 2: Natalie Armstrong (left) and her two daughters Payton and Payzlyn, along with her mother Katrina Sinor rally at the state capitol on April 2, 2018 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Thousands of teachers and supporters are scheduled to rally Monday at the state Capitol calling for higher wages and better school funding. Armstrong said she has spent $3,000 this year for school supplies Teachers are walking off the job after a $6,100 pay raise was rushed through the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin. (Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 2: Oklahoma teachers rally at the state capitol on April 2, 2018 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Thousands of teachers and supporters are scheduled to rally Monday at the state Capitol calling for higher wages and better school funding. Teachers are walking off the job after a $6,100 pay raise was rushed through the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin. (Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images)
Thousands of Kentucky teachers rallied at the state Capitol in Frankfort, Ky. on Monday, April 2, 2018. (Alex Slitz/Lexington Herald-Leader/TNS via Getty Images)
FRANKFORT, KY - APRIL 2: Public school teachers and their supporters protest against a pension reform bill outside the senate chambers at the Kentucky State Capitol April 2, 2018 in Frankfort, Kentucky. The teachers are calling for higher wages and are demanding that Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin veto a bill that overhauls their pension plan. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
FRANKFORT, KY - APRIL 2: Thousands of public school teachers and their supporters protest against a pension reform bill at the Kentucky State Capitol April 2, 2018 in Frankfort, Kentucky. The teachers are calling for higher wages and are demanding that Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin veto a bill that overhauls their pension plan. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
FRANKFORT, KY - APRIL 2: Thousands of public school teachers and their supporters protest against a pension reform bill at the Kentucky State Capitol April 2, 2018 in Frankfort, Kentucky. The teachers are calling for higher wages and are demanding that Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin veto a bill that overhauls their pension plan. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
FRANKFORT, KY - APRIL 2: Public school teachers and their supporters protest against a pension reform bill outside the senate chambers at the Kentucky State Capitol April 2, 2018 in Frankfort, Kentucky. The teachers are calling for higher wages and are demanding that Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin veto a bill that overhauls their pension plan. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
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(Reporting by Marti Maguire Additional reporting by Kirk Bado in Chapel Hill, N.C. Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Michael Perry)

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