RALEIGH, N.C. — Thousands of teachers filled the main street of North Carolina’s capital Wednesday demanding better pay and more funding for public schools, hoping to achieve what other educators around the country accomplished by pressuring lawmakers for change.

City blocks turned red, the color of shirts worn by marchers chanting “We care! We vote!” and “This is What Democracy Looks Like!” An estimated 19,000 people joined the march, according to the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, which based its number in part on aerial photos.

“I feel the current politicians in charge of the state are anti-public education,” Raleigh high school teacher Bill Notarnicola said as he prepared a time-lapse photo of the march. “The funds are not keeping up with the growth. We are seeing cutback, after cutback, after cutback.”

Many teachers entered the Legislative Building, continuing to chant as the Republican-controlled legislature held short floor meetings to start its annual work session. Most teachers quieted down when asked, but a woman who yelled, “Education is a Right: That is why we have to fight,” was among four escorted from the Senate gallery. No arrests were made.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper spoke at a rally across the street, promoting his proposal to pay for higher salaries by blocking tax cuts that Republicans decided to give corporations and high-income households next January. GOP leaders have flatly rejected his idea.

Cooper, who is working to eliminate the GOP’s veto-proof majorities in fall elections, urged teachers to ask lawmakers, “are you going to support even more tax cuts for corporations and the very wealthy, or are you going to support much better teacher pay and investment in our public schools?”

Previous strikes, walkouts and protests in West Virginia, Arizona, Kentucky, Colorado and Oklahoma led legislators in each state to improve pay, benefits or overall school funding. Wednesday’s march in North Carolina prompted more than three-dozen school districts that educate more than two-thirds of the state’s 1.5 million public school students to cancel class.

But these Republican leaders appear determined not to change course under pressure, and North Carolina educators aren’t unionized, so they have fewer options for organized protest than teachers in some of these other states. Some, in fact, had to seek personal days off Wednesday and pay $50 for a substitute before districts canceled class.