Aim Higher Now petition arrives in Waynesville

By Rachel Robles, Lifestyles editor | Jun 17, 2014
Photo by: Rachel Robles AIM HIGHER FOR TEACHER PAY — The Aim Higher Now petition for increased teacher pay came to Waynesville on Monday, June 16.

A crowd of roughly 30 people gathered at the Haywood County Courthouse on Monday, June 16, to welcome the Aim Higher Now teacher petition. Teachers, both active and retired, parents, friends and supporters of teacher pay reform signed the petition that has garnered over 61,000 signatures and will be presented to the General Assembly on Thursday.

Tanna Tims, a retired teacher from Bethel Elementary School, attended to show her support for current teachers and to send a message to the governor.

“I’m very concerned with teacher pay for young people,” said Tims. “They can’t make it on what the governor is doing to them. We’re losing teachers.”

The rally was led by Garrett Brenner with Aim Higher Now. His main focus was on the various proposed budget plans and their questionable sustainability. The Senate’s plan is give teachers a raise at the cost of eliminating 7,400 teaching assistant positions in the state. The House’s plan is to increase advertising for the N.C. Education Lottery and to give teachers a small raise on the projected revenue of increased lottery sales.

Brenner’s hope is the petition will show legislators the growing unrest among educators and their supporters.

“When it comes to a public petition, 61,000 is a lot of signatures,” he said. “The signatures show widespread support and energy, as well as unease and awareness that legislators just don’t get it.”

Brenner also pointed out that the signs he brought for protesters to hold were incorrect. When the petition came out, North Carolina was 46th in the national ranking for teacher pay. The most recent survey, however, North Carolina is now 47th; Mississippi, Oklahoma and South Dakota are the only states that pay its teachers less.

Alex Masciarelli, Spanish and history teacher at Waynesville Middle School, and a parent spoke of the struggles teachers are facing and encouraged everyone to sign the petition and spread awareness.

For more information or to sign the petition, visit www.aimhighernownc.org.