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Thousands protest education budget cuts in Raleigh

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TWC News: Thousands protest education budget cuts in Raleigh
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RALEIGH – A big crowd of educators and supporters formed outside the Legislative Building to protest proposed cuts to the state's education budget

Governor Bev Perdue and State Schools Superintendent June Atkinson joined a crowd of thousands across from the state legislature building for the North Carolina Association of Educators "One Voice" rally.

The rally drew educators, parents, students and lawmakers from all around the state. They were protesting state budget cuts to education. The group says the state has already lost 15,000 jobs in public education over the past two years.

"Our being able to serve the needs of all students is dangerously thin, and the proposed cuts to public education put us on thin, thin ice." State Superintendent June Atkinson said as she addressed the crowd.

The group is worried about a House budget that could leave thousands of education workers unemployed. Teachers assistants are especially vulnerable.

"The teachers assistants aren't just there to do paperwork," said Ophelia Wright, a third grade teacher in Rockingham County. "They make a really big impact on the students just as well as the teachers."

In addition to the personnel cuts, many at the rally were concerned about the possible elimination of the North Carolina Teacher Academy.

"It's the state's responsibility to help train these teachers to help keep them on the cutting edge, and that's what we try to do at the Teacher Academy," said Teacher Academy Assistant Director Sid Baker.

Flanked by students, Governor Bev Perdue said the state's history is still being written.

"These children will write the next generation of North Carolina's success or failure," Perdue said. "I understand clearly that for this state to have a decent chance in a global economy we have to have you in every classroom in North Carolina doing the job of educating our children."

The group is urging lawmakers to consider keeping the temporary one-cent sales tax in place, instead of making cuts to education.

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