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By Kosta Harlan May 6, 2011 Raleigh, NC – A massive crowd of 8000 teachers, youth and community members wearing red shirts swelled outside the North Carolina State Legislative Building on May 3 to protest cuts to education. The rally was organized by the North Carolina Association of Educators. Dozens of community and grassroots organizations, including the NAACP, Farm Labor Organizing Committee and Students for a Democratic Society, mobilized to show their support for public school teachers and to defend education from attack by right-wing legislators.
About an hour into the rally, a lively contingent of 150 students from the North Carolina Defend Education Coalition arrived in the plaza after marching from North Carolina State University, chanting, “No cuts! No fees! Education should be free!” Five youth with North Carolina Defend Education were later arrested while unfurling a banner inside the legislative building while legislators were debating the cuts to education.
“The cuts that have been proposed are absolutely outrageous and will devastate education as we know it,” said Ana Maria Reichenbach, a member of the University of North Carolina Students for a Democratic Society and an organizer of the student contingent. “We see this as larger attack on public services that benefit the working class; it is a direct transfer of wealth to the rich and the corporations.”
The North Carolina Association of Educators noted in their press release for the rally that “3000 education positions are on the chopping block, class size continues to grow, healthcare costs are skyrocketing and national board and master’s degree pay are in jeopardy.” Thousands of participants at the rally came from 100 counties across North Carolina to echo this message.
Cathey Stanley, a former student-teacher at Carrboro High School, said her message to the legislators debating the cuts to education is, “Get in the classrooms, see the people you’re affecting and see the students your harming and the teachers you’re doing a great disservice to who are teaching your students and your children, who are the future of this state.”