She said lawmakers have let teachers down by failing to equip them properly to do their jobs.
In addition, teachers are calling for the creation of a multiyear pay plan for teachers, administrators and other school personnel that would raise incomes to the national average.
Jameel Williams was among the thousands from across the state to march from the NCAE headquarters to the North Carolina State Legislative Building.
As thousands of people marched outside the General Assembly in Raleigh, Governor Roy Cooper showed his support for helping teachers.
State Sen. Paul Lowe, D-Forsyth, said he was moved by hearing another round of teacher stories, those from Forsyth and across North Carolina. Not only did Republicans redraw the state's congressional map (later declared unconstitutional) and pass the infamous bathroom bill (later partially repealed), but they also slashed funding for school supplies and textbooks, scrapped a cap on classroom size, and eliminated pay raises for veteran teachers and those with advanced degrees. The March for Students and Rally for Respect starts at 10 a.m. and teachers will march from the North Carolina Association of Educators headquarters to the legislative building, enter the building, and begin meeting with legislators. One said, "Teacher (noun): an endangered species", while another simply demanded the state "Make Education Great Again".
Republicans said they have passed teacher pay hikes for the last five years.
State Rep. Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth, a former chairman of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Board of Education, said he recognized several teachers among the local contingent Wednesday.
A sea of teachers descended upon Raleigh, North Carolina, on Wednesday.
According to march volunteers Amira Pankey and Julia Singley, who work with CAPE in Guilford County, approximately 14,000 teachers officially took personal days in order to attend the rally.
Wood echoed the sentiment and said that in his district, students had gone so far as to organize voter registration rallies for seniors turning 18 this year so that they could help in the efforts to vote out incumbent politicians who vote against teachers' interests.
Advocates at the NCAE called for legislators to invest in school nurses, counselors, and social workers, expand the state's per-pupil spending, and improve school infrastructure and lower student classroom counts, among other demands. "But how do we pay for it?" said Cooper in a speech to the crowd.
"This legislature continues to put too much focus on cutting taxes for corporations instead of providing our public schools with the funding they need and deserve", Lowe said.
As part of their multi-year professional compensation and benefits plan, teachers want to get an annual cost-of-living increase, get significant raises for all public school employees, and end pay for performance based on test scores, to name a few of their priorities. Their pay increased by 4.2 percent over the previous year - the second-biggest increase in the country - and was estimated to rise an average 1.8 percent this year, but that still represents a 9.4 percent slide in real income since 2009 due to inflation, the NEA said. Adjusted for inflation, state funding for North Carolina schools has fallen almost 8 percent since the recession hit.
N.C. Association of Educators leaders said they sent emails to legislators to encourage them to attend the rally, if for no other reason than the opportunity to speak to constituents in designated areas identified by county.
Conrad said she had supported public-school education her whole life.