Education

Teacher assistants fight for state funding for jobs

Posted May 4, 2011

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— Teacher assistants in North Carolina public schools are fighting to keep their jobs, which could be lost as the state government and local school districts cut their budgets.

"It's very frustrating because I think there is such a huge misnomer about what I do," said Debbie Kelly, a first-grade teacher's assistant.

A state budget proposal expected to be approved Wednesday by the House of Representatives would fund TAs for only kindergarten and first grade, leading to job cuts.

"If they cut what they are projecting to cut, we are going to have children fall through the cracks," Kelly said.

Kelly said that TAs provide crucial individualized instruction for students and free up teachers to focus on the whole class.

Teacher assistants fight for state funding for jobs Teacher assistants fight for state funding for jobs

"Kids are at all different levels. While the teacher goes on with the class, we can go over and give that one-on-one instruction," she said.

Many local school systems are also looking at eliminating TA positions to absorb state budget cuts that could be double what they had anticipated.

Last week, the Johnston County school board voted to cut 74 TA positions.

"It's a very, very frustrating thing, but this is going to have a tremendous impact," Johnston County Schools Superintendent Ed Croom said.

The Wake County Public Schools System is also making similar contingency plans, depending on the final state budget. Last year, Wake County schools cut 25 percent of its TAs. 

Wake Superintendent Tony Tata urged lawmakers not to cut further.

"These are very significant cuts, and we cannot balance the budget on the backs of our children," Tata said.

Kelly and other TAs urged lawmakers to protect education jobs by keeping in place a temporary one-cent increase to the state sales tax rate passed in 2009 to balance the state budget. The increase will expire at the end of June unless lawmakers extend it.

"Everyone is obviously concerned about what is going to happen to their job, but at the end of the day, we're more concerned about what's going to happen to the kids," Kelly said.

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  • cmpbjam44 May 6, 2011

    I would like to thank the good people of North Carolina on here that are standing up for our T.A. My wife has been a TA for about 10 years now she brings her work home just about every nite not to mention all the unpaid hours she put in running concessions at ball games school functions ect. She loves her job because she loves seeing children succeed, She has been a T.A. of the year at her school 4 of the 10 years she has been there everyone tells her she needs to go back to school to become a teacher but for those of us tring to do the things this country was founded on like being married and making a honest living there is noway we can afford to send her back to school. She is my wife and i love her very much for the person she is and anyone who has a child in school would be lucky to have a T.A like her.When i have teenagers come up to me that i dont even know and tell me how she made a difference in there life that is priceless just something for you people on here kicking the T.A

  • jon2four May 6, 2011

    IT COMES OUT OF THE WORKING MAN/WOMAN POCKETS TO PAY FOR THE FREE STUFF.

    I get so tired of those post that infer that if you work for the state that you're some sort of freeloader. Those who work for the state pay taxs same as everyone else and when the budget is cut state workers are first to feel the pinch. And most state workers only get paid once a month. People who work for the state are working men and women.

  • enchantedpines May 5, 2011

    Whoever is getting all crazy over NCAE salaries needs to realize that their salaries are paid for by members who CHOOSE to belong to NCAE, not any state money. Get your facts straight.

  • enchantedpines May 5, 2011

    Why the bitterness toward teachers and teacher assistants? We do our jobs under often lousy conditions for mediocre pay and benefits. A lot of the time, our hands are tied by everything from NCLB to bizarre administrative whims to crazy parents making ridiculous demands. I didn't go into this field for a high salary, but I do have a right to expect fair compensation for what I do. Also, we work ten months, not nine, and that is how many months we are paid for. Any teacher getting a check EVERY month is having pay split out over 12 months based on a 10 month work year. I get paid ten months (and I work on average 50-60 hours a week - no overtime, I just have to work until I get my job done) and bank my summer pay out of each check. If you want to hate, hate on the fat cats who insist on wasteful spending practices like the amount of money it costs to test every year. Hating on teachers/TAs makes as much sense as blaming a soldier for losing a battle b/c of poor planning from generals.

  • bspell2002 May 5, 2011

    I think some of these posts are awful. If some of you had to work in these classrooms or had a child in these classrooms you would understand the importance of an assistant. Teachers work so hard to reach all children but there are so many different needs today. If some parents would do their job maybe assistants would not be needed as much. Sometimes assistants play the role of nurse, grandma, mother, and teacher. Some of these children have no one to read with them or give them a hug for doing a great job, to hear an encouraging word, to give them something to eat because they did not have any supper the night before. You people that think we are needed just need to come and observe in the classrooms. One more thing how will your children get to school if the assistants aren't there to drive the buses? Let's see you bring them to school everyday with the price of gas as high as it is. Let's keep the penny tax that way everyone has to help with the budget.

  • carrboroyouth May 5, 2011

    Uhh wildcat, I wasn't making excuses for the parents. I said that teachers can't punish kids for being disruptive because the parents of that child are sue-happy. They believe that their child is an angel that was only misunderstood.

    I'm pointing out my experience because I'm a young gen X or an old gen Y (depending on your definition). I appreciated my TAs because they removed disruptive kids and I could focus better without a whiny tantrum going on. If my peers needed TAs then (a little over a decade ago), we absolutely need TAs now!

  • wildcat May 5, 2011

    ITS REALLY AMAZES ME THAT PARENTS OF TODAY DON'T REALLY CARE OR CONCERN THEMSELVES IN WHO IS TEACHING THEIR CHILDREN? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT PICTURE?

  • wildcat May 5, 2011

    I AM AMAZED BY MANY THAT DON'T THINK THEIR CHILD SHOULD SHOW RESPECT!

  • wildcat May 5, 2011

    WHEN YOU TEACH YOUR CHILDREN AT AN EARLY AGE, YOU WILL BE SO PROUD OF THEM WHEN THEY BECOME YOUNG ADULTS THEMSELVES.

  • wildcat May 5, 2011

    GET RID OF THE ASSISTANT FOR THEY ARE NOT QUALIFIED TO TEACH. DO THEY HAVE A 4 YEAR DEGREE AND I AM NOT SPEAKING OF A ASSOCIATE DEGREE. YOU WOULD THINK THAT A TEACHER THAT SPENT ALL THAT TIME IN A COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY WOULD LOVE TO DO THE JOB HERSELF/HIMSELF INSTEAD OF PUTING THE LOAD ON AN ASSISTANT. SO WHY DID YOU GO TO COLLEGE IN THE FIRST PLACE? LOOKS LIKE THE ASSISTANT MAY SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE ONE TO GO.

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