Bladen County schools in session Wednesday; dozens of districts closed for rally

By: Chrysta Carroll - Bladen Journal

ELIZABETHTOWN — Across the state, teachers are planning to attend a rally in Raleigh on Wednesday, prompting many districts to cancel school. In Bladen County, as of press time, school is still in session.

“We are planning on having school Wednesday,” said Valerie Newton, public information officer for Bladen County Schools. “We will be operating on normal hours.”

As of Friday afternoon, 14 local teachers put in requests for leave of absence for the day of the rally.

“We cannot attribute, nor can we not attribute, any of them to the rally,” Newton remarked.

Being hailed as a rally by proponents and as a walkout by critics, the event is one of a national movement of educator prompts to encourage higher pay. Beginning in West Virginia then moving to Oklahoma, the movement has been likened to the “Me, too” movement in its scope and passion.

As national focus turns to North Carolina on Wednesday, thousands of teachers will take to the streets in Raleigh to demand better pay and working conditions. Participants hope the march will bring attention to education issues and be the impetus to changes in the November election, most notably the weakening of Republican control of the General Assembly, hailed by Democrats as the roadblock to improvements.

More than 15,000 people have signed up to attend the “March for Students and Rally for Respect,” making it the largest organized effort by teachers in state history. As of Friday afternoon, nearly 30 school districts around the state had cancelled school Wednesday, including the state’s three largest — Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Wake County, and Guildford County.

Closer to home, several neighboring counties have cancelled school as a result of the rally. Students in Pender County, Brunswick County, New Hanover County, and Cumberland County will all be out of school on Wednesday.

Newton said Bladen County Schools staff will be meeting on Monday to evaluate how many additional leave of absence requests came in Friday.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing ccarroll@bladenjournal.com.

Chrysta Carroll

Bladen Journal