Durham teacher Dov Rosenberg acquitted himself well this week at a national conference for education writers in Baltimore.
Rosenberg was part of panel selected by the Education Writers Association to discuss teacher walkouts.
He explained why thousands of North Carolina teachers, parents and others took over the streets of Raleigh on May 1 to demand lawmakers adequately fund public schools.
“Where schools are underfunded, it hurts families of color especially,” Rosenberg said. “That’s why we’re out in the streets because we want to see an adequate amount of support given to all of our public schools.”
Rosenberg’s comments came as he pushed back against panelists who questioned the wisdom of forcing school districts to close for a day.
Shavar Jeffries, national president of Democrats for Education Reform, an organization that supports more charter schools, argued that students of colors cannot afford to miss school.
Jeffries said walking out should be the “last option” for educators.
Rosenberg said the walkout was the last resort for North Carolina teachers.
“We have to use what power we have, and the most power we have is our labor,” Rosenberg said. “We are furious that our students are forced to learn in the miserable conditions we are required to work.”
During another conference session, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy Devos was also critical of teacher walkouts.
“I think it’s important that adults have adult disagreements on adult time, and that they not ultimately hurt kids in the process,” DeVos said. “I think too often they’re doing so by walking out of classrooms and having arguments in the way that they are.”
Devos also used the discussion to take a shot a Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.
“I think great teachers, perhaps, should be making at least half as much as what Randi Weingarten does at $500,000 a year,” Devos said.