Teachers march for increased wages

Teachers march on Raleigh to demand better pay and defend their rights. Photo by Elsie Baker

On May 1, while students were enjoying their day off, many teachers from NC marched in downtown Raleigh for better pay and more funding for public schools.

The march was planned by the NCAE (North Carolina Association of Educators). As the state’s largest education advocacy organization for public school employees, the NCAE represents active, retired and student teachers. The NCAE has planned many marches in the past, the latest one being in May of 2018, which brought an estimated 19,000 educators to downtown Raleigh.

The specific demands of this year’s march included additional funding, which would allow schools to be staffed with psychologists, social workers, nurses and librarians; restoration of extra pay for advanced degrees; an increase in minimum wage for all school personnel to 15 dollars an hour; a 5 percent cost-of-living raise for school employees and retirees; expansion of Medicaid to improve the healthcare of students and their families and for future teachers that may be hired after 2021, the restoration of retiree health benefits.

Jamie Schendt, CHS social studies teacher, is one of many teachers in the CHCCS district who participated in both this year’s and last year’s march. He believes that these marches show students and parents that teachers stay informed and pay attention to the legislature, as well that when teachers feel a need for change, they will act and push for that change in the best way they can.

“I’m not here to say that the marches are what leads to changes in the laws, but I think it at least is showing just how unified the voice of teachers can be in NC,” stated Schendt.

Schendt pointed out how the march could open school employees up to potential criticism. One of the biggest points of criticism concerns pay raises. Critics may point out that there have been three or four consecutive pay raises from the state, yet there was a span over five or six year’s previous to those where pay was frozen.

Critics may also point out that students lose instructional time, especially this year, with all the inclement weather we had. On the other hand, those who participated in the march were willing to give up class time because they felt it necessary to do so. People may or may not be in agreement with losing class time for teachers to make what could be considered a political statement.

Regardless of the march’s positive or negative effects, participants made their voices heard regarding the education system, despite teachers often being expected to remain politically neutral in public spaces.

“To say that teachers aren’t or shouldn’t be political I think is a bit of an unfair hole to put us in or a box to put us in,” Schendt said. “…Everything about our job is political. We don’t get to choose a lot of the things that affect us.”

CHS wrestles at Conference tournament

Top, from left to right: Brian Buck, sophomore; Israel Medrano, senior; Hank Hultman, senior; Aidan Thorne, sophomore; Matteo Fulghieri, senior Bottom, from left to right: Jacobie Lewis, senior; Alex Malagon, junior. Photo by Louise Monnet

On January 26, the Carrboro wrestling team hosted the 2019 2A MidState Conference tournament. The CHS team wrestled at home against Bartlett Yancey, Reidsville, Cummings and North Carolina School of Science and Math (NCSSM).

Carrboro placed second overall with 111 points out of the five teams. They also finished with three runner ups and three Conference champions out of nine wrestlers competing. Brian Buck, Alex Malagon and Israel Medrano were the runner ups for CHS. Aidan Thorne and Matteo Fulghieri and Hank Hultman were crowned conference champions.

Reidsville finished first with 137 points and five conference champions, Cummings finished third with 104 points and three conference champions, Bartlett Yancey finished forth with 85 points and two conference champions and NCSSM finished fifth with 68 points and one conference champion.

Hultman and Fulghieri claimed their second conference titles of their careers. Carrboro wrestlers Buck, Malagon, Medrano, Thorne, Hultman and Fulghieri were named All-Conference, finishing top two in their weight class. Additionally, Jacobie Lewis was named All-Conference under an at large bid, voted by the coaches. As a final victory of the day, Matteo Fulghieri was voted the MidState Conference Wrestler of the year. This marks the fourth consecutive year a CHS wrestler has claimed this title.

Saving Clay, Saving Dollars

While many classes begin with a warm up and everyone at their desk, one class — Ceramics — works differently. The routines of CHS Ceramics classes are designed to engage students’ creativity and save money.

As the bell rings to signal the start of the period, students start to get their tools and clay. When they have what they need, they head to their tables and start working. They mold the clay as they wish until they have their desired look or continue the previous days work. If they break or don’t want to keep what they have they scrape it into a special device: a pugmill.

Candacie Schrader, Arts and Ceramics teacher, explains the importance of the pugmill to the department and classes.

“The pugmill is used for reconstitutionof the clay,” said Schrader. “The [device] ensures that clay can be reused rather than thrown away. Without the pugmill, we wouldn’t be able to reconstitute that clay and constantly reuse it.”

This process ensures that more clay is saved rather than lost.

“We are talking about fifteen-hundred pounds of clay we would lose a year,” said Schrader. “We order three-thousand pounds of clay, and without the pugmill we wouldn’t be able to reconstitute that clay.”

Former CHS student and current employee at The Clay Makers (a ceramics studio in Durham), Emmanuel Oquaye also sees the benefits of the pugmill.

“If a project [breaks] or if the student doesn’t want to fire it, it gets added to the water bucket,” said Oquaye via text message.  “Then you have some nice clay mud [which goes] on plaster boards to stiffen up a bit until it’s the consistency of workable clay. [Then it’s] run through the pugmill.”

Recycling clay and saving money is not one person’s job; it takes work from teachers as well as students.

A ceramics pugmill allows artists to recycle their clay. Photo by Levi Hencke