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"We're wearing these to support students and teachers", Broverman said, surprising her mother, who said they had not even discussed the shirts yet.

The protest comes after recent teacher strikes and walkouts in states like Kentucky, West Virginia and Oklahoma.

Educators across the state walked out of schools and gathered for a rally in Raleigh in hopes that lawmakers will hear their calls for higher pay and funding for classroom resources they say have been diminished by a decade of cuts while major corporations have gotten tax breaks.

The group demands that legislators increase per-pupil spending to the national average, increase school construction for a growing state, and approve a multiyear pay raise for teachers and school support staff that raises incomes to the national average.

"The fact that a million kids are not going to be in school (Wednesday) because a political organization wants to have folks come there to communicate with us or send a message" should be the day's focus, said state Senate leader Phil Berger, a Republican.

Sherrie Dame, who helps tutor small groups of students at a school in Mooresville, doesn't have her pay funded through the state like other teachers.

The North Carolina educators say their top goal is to get legislators to increase annual per-pupil funding, which is now about $9,329, according to a 2018 report by the National Education Association. "The GOP legislators in the N.C. General Assembly have politicized education, and they refuse to do what's best for teachers and students".

According to the National Education Association, North Carolina's teachers ranked 39th in average teacher pay past year, with an average salary of $49,970.

Carrying signs that said "Our teachers are worth it", educators in red T-shirts chanting "Red for Ed" streamed through a downtown Raleigh street heading for a rally at the capitol.

Teachers and reporters posted photos, videos, and updates from Raleigh with the hashtags #RedforEd, #RedforEdNC, and #NCTeacherRally.

North Carolina teachers are calling for higher pay. Three of the state's largest school districts are closed as a result of teachers leaving school, including Wake County Public School System, which has 160,000 students, according to the Associated Press.

Numerous lawmakers wore red in honor of the teacher rally, and gave the teachers in the gallery a standing ovation for their service.

"We are now about $2,400 below the national average in how we fund our public school children", Jewell said at a news conference in Raleigh earlier this week.

Rachel Holdridge, a special education teacher at Wilmington's Alderman Elementary School with 22 years' experience, said she drives for Uber to make ends meet. Per-student public school spending is down about 8 percent over the same period, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

"I don't know how many teachers showed up here today, but it's hard to imagine that so many would be willing to stay outside in the rain but not take a few minutes to vote months from now", Speight said.

Republican legislative leaders have said this year's planned salary increase of 6 percent would mark the fifth consecutive annual increase.

He said one of his own concerns is the school building, which he said was built in 1954 and needs many repairs. They deserve professionally paid educators. However, many teachers state that they prefer longer-term contracts to feel more secure in their jobs, WTKR reported.

Conrad said she had supported public-school education her whole life.