The Daily Southerner
The hallways and classrooms of Edgecombe County Public Schools (ECPS) were dotted with red Monday, as many educators and administrators chose to wear the bright color on the first day of school.
“The North Carolina Association of Educators has asked that educators unite and wear red for symbolism…to indicate our disagreement with the decisions that were made in the legislature,” said Thomas Holland, principal of G.W. Bulluck Elementary School.
The statewide movement is called “Wear Red for Public Ed.” The movement is a response to the state legislature’s funding cuts to public education this year.
Cynthia Pitt, president of the Edgecombe County Association of Educators and science teacher at SouthWest Edgecombe High School, said everyone is also asked to wear red each Wednesday throughout the school year “to just show support for public education.” She rifled through her closet to find a red outfit to wear Monday morning.
“We are out to get the attention of the legislature,” Pitt said. “It’s going to take us to come together in unity to actually get something done.”
“We’re still united in the front for students,” he said.
Holland said he and the staff of Bulluck are committed to giving their best to students this school year “regardless of the challenges we face.”
Robin Jernigan, a second-grade teacher at Bulluck, also wore red Monday.
“I guess the red made me a silent visible advocate for public education,” Jernigan said. While she didn’t have to say anything, the red symbolized her support.
“Of course, I want the best for teachers and students,” Jernigan said. “I don’t feel like we’ve been treated properly.”
Pitt said the teachers and students alike have been affected by the budget cuts.
“When we have lack of funds, the schools do not have resources they need actually to provide our students with 21st century learning experiences,” Pitt said. “A lot of households are affected. We have teachers who have to go out and get second jobs to support their families.”
North Carolina Public Schools teachers did not receive a raise this year and teachers’ salaries in the state rank near the bottom in the nation.
“We feel like the respect for our profession is no longer there,” Pitt said. “If we didn’t have teachers, where would we be? If it wasn’t for teachers, we wouldn’t have the professional athletes that everybody looks up to…”
Pitt believes the educators’ statement of wearing red will have a statewide impact and will show the legislators their disapproval of their decisions and will prompt them to action.
A representative from ECPS central office, public information officer Kristian Herring, supported the campaign by wearing a red tie while making his rounds to the 14 schools in the district Monday.