The (Class) Struggle Is Real: Beth El Teens Support NC Public Education
We, the teens of Beth El Synagogue of Durham, NC, are standing up for our schools on Wednesday, May 1st.
We are tired of broken bathrooms, dismembered desks, and holes in our ceilings that haven’t been fixed in years. We are tired of our teachers needing to ask for paper donations instead of teacher appreciation gifts because the school is not covering enough of their supplies. We are tired of seeing good teachers move out of the state because NC will no longer pay them more if they have a Masters degree. We are tired of seeing the good teachers that have stayed being unable to do their best because they have too many classes to manage. We are tired of not having enough librarians, guidance counselors, social workers, and nurses to provide us with the support that we need to succeed. And we are tired of the North Carolina General Assembly telling us that our education doesn’t matter.
Out of all 50 states in the US, North Carolina’s K-12 public school system ranks:
- 46th for teacher pay
- 32nd in quality and safety
- 45th in teacher quality
- 46th in median ACT scores
- 45th in per pupil expenditure ($9,000 per student, compared to the average of $11,000)
We deserve better.
We have a societal duty to learn and to be taught in schools. If we have underpaid teachers, we will not learn the necessary skill sets we need to succeed in life. If we have underpaid teachers, we will have fewer teachers, leading to a less smart, underprepared society. As Jews, one of the most important values in our tradition is education. The rabbis that educate us about the nuances of our own religion are very similar to our teachers in the Public Education system. Both have the primary goal of teaching a community for the greater good of society. We would never allow our rabbis and other Jewish scholars to be left behind like our teachers are. This begs the question, why are we leaving our teachers behind?
Since 2012, the radical swing to the far right of our previously purple state led to many huge cuts to our education system. We need to tell the NC General Assembly that we see them doing this and we are not going to let them get away with it any more.
On May 1st, we will be marching in Raleigh to fight for 5 issues, all of which have bills in the General Assembly right now:
- Fund student services to meet national standards, including counselors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, and librarians.
- 15$ minimum wage and a 5% pay raise for all non-certified staff and retirees.
- Expand Medicaid to improve the health of our students and families. Succeeding in school means being healthy enough to attend and focus in school.
- Reinstate state retiree health benefits, and
- Restore advanced degree pay, both of which were taken away by the GA in 2013 and 2017.
With these goals in mind, we can make life so much better in the future.
We are joining the tens of thousands of teachers, students, and parents from across the state marching from the NC Association of Educators building to the General Assembly. In the afternoon we will meet up with all of the other people from our district and confront our local lawmakers in their offices to commit on record to supporting the corresponding bills for our 5 demands.
When we march, we appeal to the governors, senators, legislators, and all lawmaking parties. With our combined numbers, we will advocate for a better society, a better generation, a better life for us, our children and their children as well. If you aren’t able to join us, then we urge you wear red on May 1st and to help us show legislators how important this issue is to you by signing your name below.
Beth El-Durham USY and Kadima youth groups, 6th-12th grade