05/14/10 — Local teacher heads to rally for education

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Local teacher heads to rally for education

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 14, 2010 1:46 PM

Spring Creek High School science teacher Joe Beamon will add his voice to those of educators, parents and others from across the state when they gather in Raleigh Saturday for the Fund Schools First Rally to protest state budget cuts to education.

Beamon said that he and other educators realize the financial straits the state is in, but said that he does not want to see state budget cuts cost teachers their jobs.

When that happens, the teachers aren't the only ones who suffer, he said. Students and the quality of education is also damaged, he added.

The rally, sponsored by the North Carolina Association of Educators starts at noon at the NCAE Center, 700 S. Salisbury St., Raleigh.

Rally participants will walk to the old Capitol building and will hear various speakers including NCAE president Sherri Strickland and pro-education legislators. Afterwards, they will break into smaller groups to talk with lawmakers.

The message is simple -- stop budget cuts to public education, Beamon said.

"It will let them hear our concerns, what is needed for us and our students," he said. "We will ask that they remember our students and us and that we will remember them in November."

Beamon said he did not know if other Wayne County teachers would be in attendance.

"I have never been to one of these rallies," he said. "I want to see what goes on and how active the NCAE is. I want to see what is does."

Beamon said he had recently become active in the local NCAE and represented Wayne County at the recent NCAE Representative Assembly in Winston-Salem.

"I understand we are in a bad financial situation across the entire country," he said

Beamon said he is fortunate that while his salary is frozen and he was forced to take two unpaid furlough days he at least has a job.

In some areas of the state, the cuts have resulted in lost teacher jobs, something that bothers Beamon.

He said he is concerned not only for those teachers, but for their students as well.

Fewer teachers mean more students per classroom, he said. That can mean that the students are unable, in some cases, to receive as much attention they need from their teacher.

Beamon said he is hopeful the teacher pay scales that equate to salary increases will soon be unfrozen.

He said he likes that Gov. Beverly Perdue's budget proposal includes paying teachers for the earlier furloughs. However, Senate leaders have indicated that will not pass.

"But that is not a big deal," he said. "I might not be on a normal pay scale, but I have a job. I don't want teachers to lose their jobs and hurt their students.

"If teachers lose their jobs you have to increase class sizes. It would be nice to have money for basic supplies like pencils."

Teachers are given an allowance of copy paper per semester and they must make it last, he said.

That isn't a problem if tests aren't more than a page and guided worksheets aren't used, he said.

"I didn't go into teaching to get rich, but I would like put food on the table," Beamon said. "I understand the need to be frugal. What I am against is teachers losing their jobs and increased class sizes."