Over 40 local teachers and residents gathered at the gazebo in downtown Franklin Wednesday for a rally in support of public education. Macon County joined other counties across the state who also gathered at the mid-day hour at similar rallies held in support of public education.
John deVille, Franklin High School history teacher and president of the Macon County Chapter of the North Carolina Association of Educators, welcomed the crowd. “Public education is the key institution that supports democracy in this country; the key institution that supports democracy in our state,” said deVille in his opening remarks to the crowd.
He went on to share some Macon County history with the crowd, pointing out that Macon County as well as North Carolina have a long history of being leaders in public education. He remembered Nathaniel Rankin, the namesake of downtown’s Rankin Square, who after fighting for the South with the NC 26th regiment at Gettysburg came back to Macon County and with his own initiative started several public schools in the area. He spoke of Elizabeth Kelly who was a leader in adult literacy and Dr. Lyle who proposed the very first law ever in the southwest for compulsory education. He stated in 1920 Macon County had more college graduates than any other county in North Carolina per capita.
“This is the kind of county we are living in; this is the kind of families we serve, this is the history we serve,” said deVille.
John deVille, Franklin High School history teacher and president of the Macon County Chapter of the North Carolina Association of Educators shared his belief that public education continues to suffer from cuts in public education funding, citing the elimination of the tax free weekend and teacher aide positions as examples.
Jane Hipps, an educator who is running for NC State Senate District 50, was the featured guest at the rally. She stated her three goals for North Carolina are strong education, economic recovery and access to quality health care.
“I know, you know, we all know that education moves us out of poverty; Education keeps our communities strong, our economy strong,” said Hipps. “Education is the foundation of which we build our future; education is not a partisan value, education is an American value.”