8/21/13 Educators to hold rally in Graham
Public school faculty to protest budget cuts
By Isaac Groves The Times-News 8/21/13
Reprinted with permission.
GRAHAM — On Saturday morning, expect a crowd in Court Square.
The Alamance-Burlington Association of Educators is holding a rally for public education, said Karen Slade, president of the local association of public-school employees.
“It’s to get the message out that we stand for our students,” Slade said, “and we wish our state representatives would stand for us.”
The rally goes from 10 a.m. to noon.
Slade said she hopes for 300 or more people to come and show support.
Lillie Cox, superintendent of the Alamance-Burlington School System, will speak, Slade said. So will Tony Foriest, former Democratic state senator; Steve Van Pelt, board of education member; and Tom Manning, chairman of the Alamance County Board of Commissioners; as well as Slade, a local pastor, and possibly others.
Slade is also trying to organize music and other entertainment.
Slade said she did not know if any state legislators would come to the rally. She had not heard back from them.
“I would welcome them,” Slade said. “I would hope they would be out there to hear what we have to say, but I’m not sure.”
To be fair, Slade is quite critical of the General Assembly and Gov. Pat Mc-Crory.
She said the lack of cost-of-living increases in teacher pay and reductions in spending on materials for schools is hurting students. And the increasing focus on charter schools and private-school vouchers leaves many students behind.
“You can’t tell us you’re for public education when you’re cutting public education,” Slade said.
“We are not going to let them get way with what they are doing to destroy public education.”
Slade is a teacher assistant at Southern Alamance High School working with exceptional children.
She heads the roughly 465-member local association of educators, which she said is like a union, but the kind that lobbies since public employees in North Carolina cannot strike.
The North Carolina Association of Educators asked local chapters to hold rallies Saturday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.
Slade said the local association is also getting support from the state Democratic Party and the NAACP for Saturday’s rally.