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Teacher protesters converge on Raleigh

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Teachers board a train bound for Raleigh. Amtrak ticket sales peaked due to the size of the event.

Downtown Raleigh was covered in an expansive red carpet on Wednesday as teachers rallied to demand increases in education funding. The movement has been hailed as the largest mobilization of educators in North Carolina history, attracting an estimated 30,000 supporters.

Following the initial march, protestors met by county behind the Legislative Building to speak to local legislators. While the Democrats made a show of signing the pledge cards they were handed, many Republican legislators remained entrenched inside their offices.

The movement, dubbed “Red4EdNC,” differs from other teacher movements in its key talking points. While many other states, notably Arizona and West Virginia, stood up for raises in teacher pay, Wednesday’s protest shifted the dialogue towards the broader topic of funding. Frequently cited issues include supplies, class sizes and support personnel.

“I think the main goal was to show the members of the General Assembly that this is an issue the people of North Carolina care about,” freshman Maggie Shue said. “We’re not afraid to do whatever it takes to make that change happen.”

Many signs and banners hoisted during the march referenced the needs of students, including slogans such as “they’re worth it” and “the future is in my classroom.”

“To me, that’s what yesterday was about,” English teacher Alex Wertz said. “All the educators in North Carolina coming together as one voice to advocate for our students.”

Regardless of turnout and support, the ultimate decision on funding lies with legislators. Due to the court’s decision to redraw heavily-gerrymandered voting districts, many areas have become significantly more competitive, and protestors used this as a rallying point.

Marchers chanted, “remember, remember, we vote in November,” and as Representative Trudy Wade retreated back into the Legislative Building, the crowd shouted, “vote her out.” The outcome of the Red4Ed march may be uncertain until election day.

“I think the protest definitely showed the General Assembly members that we care about the issue from all the masses of people gathered around the building, but whether or not funding will increase is hard to tell,” Shue said.

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Teacher protesters converge on Raleigh