Chanting slogans like "We are not skipping school, today we teach the golden rule!" public school teachers rallied in Pack Square around the Vance Monument late Wednesday morning as part of the 2nd 'Red For Ed' marches across North Carolina. An estimated 20-thousand were expected at the main rally in Raleigh at the state capitol, while smaller marches like the one in Asheville were planned around the state.
Among the speakers in Asheville was Libby Kyles, a teacher at Isaac Dickson Elementary. Her remarks echoed the priorities that teachers are asking the General Assembly to okay in this year's session. Those include a $15 minimum wage for all school staff, raises for teachers, more librarians, nurses, psychologists, and other school health professionals to meet national standards, and the expansion of Medicaid as provided under the Affordable Care Act. "It is up to you and I to exercise our power and let people know that we are not going to stand for it anymore," Kyles said at the rally. "We want living wages, we want more social workers, we want more nurses, we want Medicaid expanded. We want to make sure that we can provide for our families the same way people in business provide for theirs." Other speakers included Buncombe County commissioner Amanda Edwards and Asheville High student Belle Freireich, who's the president-elect of the school's student government.
The rally started with a moment of silence for those killed and wounded in Tuesday's shooting at UNC Charlotte. The victims include 21-year-old Riley Howell, a graduate of T.C. Roberson High School in Asheville. He was killed after tackling the suspected gunman who opened fire in a classroom on campus.