We support teachers, hope rally helps improve schools

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We write this as products of public school teachers who transformed our lives. We write this as parents who have seen public school teachers transform the lives of our children. We write this as parents, journalists and members of this community that see and know the incredible challenges teachers face every day.

Thousands of teachers from across North Carolina are travelling to Raleigh on Wednesday for what’s being called a Day of Action. Last week in this space we expressed disappointment that the rally was forcing the Brunswick and New Hanover school systems to cancel classes in a school year in which Hurricane Florence has caused major disruptions.

We want to be clear — we support most of the causes teachers will be rallying for in Raleigh. We supported a similar rally last year because it seemed that teachers were having to take such actions to get their voices heard. However, because of the extraordinary number of days missed last fall, we feel that teachers in our area could have made their voices heard without further disrupting classes.

That in no way means we do not support teachers and their need to be heard. We simply believe that the Hurricane Florence disruptions meant a different approach was needed this time.

We write this as products of public school teachers who transformed — maybe even saved — our lives. We write this as parents who have seen public school teachers continue to transform the lives of our own children. We write this as parents, journalists and members of this community that see and know the incredible challenges teachers face every day.

We write this as editors who are dismayed by commenters who actually believe that teachers work only during school hours and do nothing on weekends or over breaks.

We write this as parents and residents who have seen and are currently experiencing the disparity in facilities, resources and maintenance of our schools.

We write this as a Wilmington native who started school just as legal racial segregation had ended and now see de facto segregation as the status quo.

We write this as we’ve seen a school board set district lines that ignored or wished away the indelible harm, mistrust, hurdles and divisions caused by years of segregation and “separate and unequal” treatment in our schools and in the larger community and economy.

But we also write this as realists, understanding that since North Carolina teachers have no legal means of collective bargaining, change will come primarily by voters electing enough sympathetic legislators. Those numbers currently are not on the side of the teachers who will be in Raleigh on Wednesday. We believe that rallies that result in the cancellation of classes in areas where so much instruction time already has been disrupted will not help.

We adamantly support our public schools. We adamantly support teachers and consider it one of the noblest of callings. In this particular place and at this particular moment, however, we disagree with the tactics and believe they could backfire.

We will be happy if we are wrong.

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