Last Thursday, over 1,000 Metro Nashville Public School teachers called in sick and descended on the courthouse in a march to protest of the current school funding proposal. Wearing red t-shirts in support for education funding, many held signs protesting the proposed three percent raise—saying that it is not enough to meet the cost of living in Nashville.
“Teachers need the real pay increases they were promised,” said one protestor. “Now! Three percent won’t pay rent.”
“We are marching because all teachers deserve a living wage,” said another. “MNPS employees deserve a 10% raise and should be paid enough to be able to afford to live in the ‘It City.’”
The ‘Day of Action’ was organized by a coalition of Sick MNPS Teachers and Nashville Red4Ed to coincide with the first presentation of the MNPS budget to the Metro Council. Following the march, teacher supporters filled the council chambers during the presentation of the budget.
Both groups, Sick MNPS Teachers and Nashville Red4Ed, believe the proposed Board of Education budget request contains enough funding to provide for the needs of the Nashville Schools and adequate teacher pay raises.
The budget put forth by Nashville Mayor David Briley currently only has funding for raises of three percent for Metro employees, which he says is part of a “multi-year approach” to increased pay for school and metro employees.
“Our wages have been basically frozen for a decade,” said Red4Ed organizers and MNPS middle school teacher Jayne Riand. “Adding three percent to what the city was giving us in 2008 is not rally fixing the problem. We’re all really struggling to be there for the kids and still be able to pay our bills.”
The groups also blame the lack of funding as responsible for the almost 700 classroom teacher vacancies currently in MNPS and the high turn-over rate for teachers that “harms student t achievement, especially the 72% of Nashville students who live in poverty.”
The day of action included rallies around the city, a march from the pedestrian bridge at Cumberland Park to Nashville Public Square Park, as well as the rally in the public square at the courthouse.
This article originally appeared in the Nashville Pride.