NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A press conference in support of raising public teacher pay held Monday is hoping to draw attention to how pay is affecting teachers' lives.
Parents, teachers and community leaders from across New Hanover County came out to make their voice heard about teacher pay. The group Aim Higher NC, formed by those same people, is campaigning to have North Carolina teacher pay raised to the national average during the upcoming short session of the NC General Assembly.
A local teacher at the press conference spoke about how low pay is affecting his life.
Chris Meek works at Murray Middle School and to supplement his income, Meek teaches at Miller- Motte College and officiates sports around the county. He said teaching has become a numbers game where high tests scores are all that matter.
"I got into this to change lives," Meek said. "Now it's 'how can I make your test score at the end of the year higher than it's expected to be."
Meek said he's speaking up for his fellow teachers because people need to be aware that teachers in North Carolina rank 46 in the nation when it comes to teacher pay.
"We are being degraded, demoralized and basically forced out of doing what we love to do," said Meek.
Fellow teacher Trish Mellott said she feels forced out and has even considered moving out of North Carolina to earn more money. She works as an itinerant teacher of the deaf in New Hanover County, and Mellott said she started going into debt last year.
"My savings are gone," she said. "My daughter is 21. She is thinking about going into teaching and I say 'don't do it'."
Both Mellott and Meek are asking parents of students, and the rest of the public, to contact state lawmakers to show support for education.
Aim Higher NC. states that they have already obtained 25,000 signatures in support of their efforts.
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