Multiple Durham schools close as teachers protest pay, education funding in NC

Multiple Durham schools close as teachers protest pay, education funding in NC

Crowds cheer during a 2018 demonstration against the GOP-controlled NC General Assembly's education policies, including the state's expanding private school voucher program. School funding is one of the areas that figures to suffer if Republicans eliminate the state's corporate tax. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

By Staff Reports

January 31, 2024

Wednesday’s school closings come after weeks of uncertainty in Durham. School staff are angry about pay and underfunding of public schools.

A dozen schools in Durham are closed today: Teachers are doing a “sick out”—meaning they’re calling out today—to protest pay and low education funding in North Carolina.

Educators and staff in Durham Public Schools say they’re angry for a number of reasons. They’re upset because many school employees were told last year that they were getting a raise. However, the system said in December that was an error and those staffers would not be getting a raise.

The system backed off on an initial plan to take back money that had already been paid out for those raises. Educators are also fired up over low teacher pay and public education funding from the state legislature. The state ranks 46th in the nation in teacher pay. Its spending on each student isn’t much better, ranking 43rd in the nation. Also, a nonpartisan report last year ranked NC last in the nation for “funding effort,” which takes into account a state’s ability to spend on education when assessing what it actually spends.

“This crisis began years ago with the state’s chronic underfunding of our public schools,” Symone Kiddoo, president of the Durham Association of Educators, said in a statement late Tuesday. “Yes, school employees want higher salaries and better working conditions as we all do in this economy, but recent actions by employees to protest pay cuts is in part a result of a chronically underfunded school district.”

For more on the state of education in NC, click here.


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