FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Teachers speak out about how underfunding of public schools contributed to tornado devastation

MEDIA ADVISORY: Teachers speak out about how underfunding of public schools contributed to tornado devastation
Guilford County educators to hold press conference to discuss the link between chronic underfunding of public schools and the severity of the devastation caused by last week’s tornado, and call for action on May 16

GREENSBORO — Guilford County educators will hold a press conference ahead of the county school board meeting on Thursday to discuss how the General Assembly’s chronic underfunding of North Carolina schools contributed to the severity of last week’s tornado devastation in the Greensboro area, and call for all North Carolina educators to attend a day of advocacy in Raleigh on May 16.

The educators will show how when you adjust for inflation and enrollment growth, public school funding has actually declined over the last decade — forcing schools to put students in “temporary” trailers instead of permanent buildings, and postpone necessary building maintenance due to lack of funding.

“We have no control over tornados, but we do have the ability to impact systemic injustice in public school funding,” said Guilford County educator Todd Warren. “It is undeniable that the underfunding of public schools contributed heavily to extent of the devastation, with high numbers of mobile units, aging roofs, and poor drainage. If the tornado had struck during school hours, we would have been facing heavy casualties — which could be prevented if lawmakers would restore funding for public education instead of giving tax cuts to millionaires and big corporations.”

WHAT: Press conference linking chronic underfunding of public schools to tornado devastation in Guilford County

WHO: Local public school teachers and community supporters

WHEN: Thursday, April 26, 2018 at 5:15pm

WHERE: Guilford County Board of Education, 712 N. Eugene Street in Greensboro

“The quick thinking and immediate response by the district and Superintendent Contreras was heartfelt and overwhelming,” added Warren. “The tornado ripped a 17 mile path of destruction through East Greensboro closing down 3 schools, knocking out power to over a dozen more, and interrupted bus lines across the district. Despite the overwhelming nature of the destruction, the Superintendent lead the district through immediate disaster response, ensured the safety of all students, and provided the 3 tornado damaged schools with a seamless and welcoming transition to new schools within days. We only wish our state would act with such efficiency.”

Following the press conference, the educators will attend the Guilford County School Board meeting at 6pm in support of the Superintendent’s budget proposal — but to also make clear that the General Assembly is the real culprit for funding shortfalls. To that end, all GCS educators not in tornado-affected schools are urged to take a personal day and join the mobilization in Raleigh on May 16 as teachers march to the General Assembly to demand that lawmakers restore classroom funding and improve teacher pay.

“As we clean up, rebuild, and bounce back from this natural disaster, we’re also going to organize, mobilize, and remember the man-made disaster of the General Assembly’s neglect for public education,” added Warren. “When lawmakers return to Raleigh on May 16, they will be met by hundreds of educators saying, ‘Enough!’”

What We Want:

  • Increase per-student spending, which is currently 39th in the nation and about $2,400 less than the national average
  • Increase pay for educators and all state employees across the board by repealing an upcoming corporate tax break
  • End performance-based pay, reinstate a pay scale that values veteran educators, and restore pay incentives for advanced degrees
  • Freeze any increases in health care costs for public employees, which requires no additional resources from the state
  • Accept federal funds to expand Medicaid, giving affordable health care to the one-quarter of North Carolina students who live in poverty
  • Stop the attacks on public schools by placing a moratorium on new charter schools and private school vouchers

What We Need:

  • We are asking for solidarity statements and action from parents and communities across the county.
  • We are asking for churches and community groups to help with the logistics of feeding children from schools where large numbers of educators will be out on May 16.
  • We are asking for churches and community groups to assist with transportation to Raleigh using buses and vans as possible.

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