Since the start of the year, Democrats in North Carolina, fueled by Democrat Roy Cooper's narrow victory over Pat McCroy in the governor's race and wins elsewhere, have grown optimistic that they can retake the state legislature, and organizers see Wednesday's protest as the opening salvo in that fight.
Jared Speight, a social studies teacher at North Stanly High School who participated in Wednesday's march, said straightforwardly that his students are being "failed" by the amount of funding the state's schools receive.
"We must turn out the vote this fall, and the future of North Carolina schools hinges on this midterm elections", Elena Brown-Richardson, a teacher at Carmel Middle School, told the crowd.
Tax cuts passed since 2013 have cost the state $3.5 billion in lost annual revenue a year, according to the North Carolina Justice Center, a progressive research and advocacy organization.
"We support offering different learning environments in hope of determining which is the best option for every child", she said.
"They have hard jobs and they deserve our respect and support" that he said goes beyond what the legislature can provide in funding to community and employer resources.
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Those who came out brought posters and wore red in support of the rally. Buoyed by the success of the West Virginia strike, teachers in Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arizona soon followed suit, closing down schools and flooding their state capitals to call for more funding. "People aren't getting their needs met when they're small".
That's why this statement of unity in North Carolina is so important.
Tracy Brumble, a teacher at Milbrook Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh, was with about a dozen fellow teachers at the school waiting for a bus to carry them to the march's starting point.
The NCAE said that its ultimate goal is to elect more "pro-public education leaders in North Carolina", WRAL reported.
"It's the beginning of a six-month stretch of time to hold our legislators accountable for prioritizing corporate tax cuts instead of our classrooms", according to the North Carolina Association of Educators.
But with the Great Recession in the past and the state's financial stability restored, teachers say it's time to catch up on deferred school spending.
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The North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE), which organized the march, is calling on legislators to spend more on students.
"How many North Carolinians out there who aren't a teacher, who aren't working for government, are going to get a 6.2 percent pay raise this year?"
North Carolina teachers earn an average salary of about $50,000, ranking them 39th in the country past year, the National Education Association reported last month. "I know certainly at my school, so many young new teachers are only lasting two, three, at the max four years before they go into a new career". "Unless we make a lot of noise, our representatives, the people in that building aren't going to listen to us, they are going to keep doing what they've been doing all along".
Wednesday's protest is a way to bring all of this into sharp relief for voters.
Teachers gather outside the Senate and House chambers during a teachers rally at the General Assembly in Raleigh, N.C., on May 16, 2018.
"I got all this off the National Education Association site last night, and seeing this I had to come down", she said.
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Lowe said solutions need to include "shifting some resources toward the schools and being much better stewards of taxpayer money". "This will all be fruitless if we can't march these folks to the ballot box on November the 5th".