Every Wednesday, the normal blue and green of Leesville bleeds red. “Red4ed on Wed” is a way students and teachers peacefully protest the recent changes to the public school system by wearing red every Wednesday. Red4EdNC is a rapidly spreading program that rallies for better conditions for the students and the teachers in the public school systems. Red4EdNC can be seen in schools all over North Carolina but what most people don’t know is that the education demonstration was started by Leesville’s very own Angela Scioli.
Scioli has been teaching at Leesville since the school opened in 1993. She received Wake County’s First Year Teacher of the Year award in 1994 and Leesville’s Teacher of the Year in 1999.
Students at Leesville know her as one of the most passionate and energetic teachers at the school. “Even if you wanted to fall asleep in Ms. Scioli’s class, which you wouldn’t, it’s not possible because she’s constantly moving around, shouting out realizations, and making you just as excited about learning as she is,” said Jordan Mareno, senior.
Scioli originally wanted to study law but decided to put those plans on hold when she received a Teaching Fellows Scholarship in 1989. After teaching for the required four years, she fell in love with the job.
Scioli and other teachers started Red4EdNC in the summer of 2013 after realizing the state legislature had drastically changed the landscape of public education in North Carolina.
“We thought it would be important to inform teachers as well as make sure the public was aware of how these changes were affecting classrooms, teachers and students,” said Scioli.
Cuts to the pre-k program, changes to public school curriculum, the elimination of the Teaching Fellows program, stagnant teacher salaries and larger class sizes are just some of the things that pushed Scioli to create Red4EdNC.
Scioli started Red4EdNC after writing a letter about her own personal revelation. The letter inspired other teachers across the state.
In her discouragement about what the state was doing, Scioli decided that continuing to teach at a high level would be her radical statement. “I call this being radicalized by standing still. I have not changed. I have remained the same. I am a passionate teacher who loves teaching and believes America is a land of opportunity and that the public school system is integral to that reality. I was radicalized by wanting to continue to teach in North Carolina under these circumstances at that level.”
The contact hours teachers have with their students in the United States is second most, after Chile. That means that no one works their teachers as hard as the United States except for one other country.
In fact, using statistics compiled from the National Center for Education Statistics, the U.S Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Wallet Hub analyzed that North Carolina is the worst state for teachers to work in based on opportunity and compensation rate, and academic and work environment rate.
Scioli voiced her opinion on the kind of employees the state should have after giving teachers such poor conditions. “North Carolina deserves teachers who stay in the profession for five years, teachers who are not committed to the profession, get out quickly and don’t care a lot about their job. The pay is so abominable, and the working conditions are unbelievably rigorous. Once I realized that I was radicalized by standing still, my act of protest was going to be continuing to do this as a statement,” said Scioli.
When teachers started to join Scioli in her quest for change, they began to realize that together they are incredibly capable of making a difference. Their end goal is to ultimately inform the public and gain as many supporters as possible. Their supporting groups come from schools all over the state which can be seen on Red4EdNC’s website.
Red4EdNC is taking a stand for teachers everywhere. “Teachers are in nature natural rule followers, and we don’t want to be trouble makers. We were the good kids in school! We follow authority and don’t want to buck the system but I think we see now that silence in this case is understood to be approval or neutrality and so we can’t continue to be silent,” said Scioli.
Red4EdNC is an essential advocate for bringing good change back to the public school system. Our teachers that are sometimes taken for granted are the backbone of our school. It’s essential we support them; join the fight and wear red!