RALEIGH, N.C. -- Thousands of teachers gathered outside of the North Carolina Legislative Building on Wednesday to rally for better pay, access to greater resources and reduced health care costs.
- Over 40 schools systems closed.
- More than 15,000 educators attended.
- "Rally for Respect" -- What does it mean?
- Event held in Charlotte to support Raleigh teacher rally
- New Hanover teachers join rally in Raleigh
- Triad teachers head to rally in Raleigh
Lines to enter the legislature's front and rear entrances wrapped along the building's perimeter on Wednesday afternoon. Entry was going at a slow and steady pace as security officers used metal detectors and bag scanners to screen people entering.
Once inside, some teachers were seeking to meet with lawmakers, while others were trying to get seats in the gallery to watch legislative debate. The General Assembly was set to start its yearly work session Wednesday.
While many teachers chanted slogans like "Remember remember we vote in November" and "Red for ed", once asked to stop they mostly complied.
No arrests have been reported as a result of this rally.
The march and rally were organized to demand better pay for teachers and more resources for public schools.
During the rally after the morning's march, Gov. Roy Cooper spoke to the masses.
Cooper reflected on his mother and her time as a public school teacher, saying if she were still alive, that she'd be fighting for her students.
The governor commended all teachers who dedicate their lives to educate and counsel students. He said his budget would put an extra $112 million to boost teacher pay, which would mean every teacher, including veteran teachers, would get at least a 5 percent raise.
He also said he wants to freeze tax cuts for corporations and allocate that money so teachers have money for school supplies, the physical condition of schools can be improved and more nurses and school resource officers can be hired.
"Now we need to put our money where our trust is. If I've learned anything from the hundreds of teachers I have met, it is this: teachers don't teach for incomes, teachers teach for outcomes," Cooper said.
Roughly 65 percent of schools in the state were closed Wednesday so teachers could attend the rally. Participating teachers were using personal leave to attend the event.
On teacher from Durham says he attended because he feels his students are being affected by underfunding.
Those who don't support the rally argue that the upcoming 6.2 percent average pay increase in July will mark five years in a row that North Carolina teachers have received a pay raise.
Supporters in the western part of the state also joined in with a rally of their own although some school systems did not close. It was held later in the day at the old courthouse in Newton. Speakers there included teachers and students.