Proposed budget cut angers TAs, parents

Posted June 30, 2015

— Even though they're on summer break, dozens of teaching assistants spent Tuesday on a field trip, lobbying state lawmakers not to cut their jobs.

The Senate budget for the next two years calls for cutting 8,500 TAs statewide, instead targeting money to hire 6,700 teachers to help reduce class sizes in lower elementary school grades.

Although the new budget year starts Wednesday, lawmakers this week passed a stopgap spending measure to keep state funding at current levels until mid-August so they have a few more weeks to agree on a budget after they return from a week-long break.

"The message the politicians are sending is, 'Y'all have a happy 4th of July! We're going to the beach! Maybe we'll fire you when we get back,'" said Melinda Zarate, state secretary of the North Carolina Association of Teacher Assistants.

"I'm so shocked, and I'm going to say that I am also angry that these wonderful, hard-working, competent teaching assistants who are so important to education have to spend their summer worrying if they are going to have a job in the fall," said Lisa Kaylie, a parent of two special-needs students in Chapel Hill.

TAs no longer simply make copies for teachers or put together classroom bulletin boards, said Michelle Bailey of Onslow County, the state's current Teaching Assistant of the Year.

"We teach side by side with our teachers in the classroom," Bailey said. "It's as if what we do is not important."

Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake, said that, if the cuts are included in the final budget, the number of TAs statewide will have dropped by 70 percent since 2008-09.

"This is a ridiculous approach to educating our children," Stein said, noting that a lone teacher in a class of 17 kindergartners cannot escort a child to the bathroom or handle a behavioral problem without sacrificing the needs of the rest of the class.

Legislative leaders said school districts have the flexibility to continue funding TA positions with local funding, but Zarate said the uncertain financial picture this summer has already prompted some districts to start cutting back.

"The school systems have to go ahead and make their plans. They can't wait until the beginning of school," she said. "It's just very nerve-wracking. Imagine one of you going home and not knowing if you were going to have a job in the coming months."


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  • Charlie Watkins Jul 2, 2015
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    Take the TA money and give it to the teachers. Then you will hear no more about the need for TA's.

  • Melissa Noderer Jul 1, 2015
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    The Legislature proposes reducing class size in the lower grades and eliminating TAs. The WCPS say they do not have enough space to accommodate smaller class sizes. It would take years to build new schools. No knowing the dollar amount saved by reducing TAs by 8500 over two years, I think it is a safe assumption that the amount saved would not be enough to fast-track new school construction. The NC Legislature has not done it's due diligence on this matter.
    Regarding "Homeroom Moms" from the olden days: Times have changed. In the larger school districts such as Wake and Mecklenburg Co, students generally do not attend neighborhood schools. Parents' places of employment may not be anywhere near the school their children attend. Gone are the days of school volunteerism as we knew it when we were kids. It's a shame really...but it is what it is.

  • Mike Wells Jul 1, 2015
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    Wonder if the figures have come out how much it would cost to buy out these TA's benefits to reduce their positions? One would think these TA's are career status school employee's. This has to be an extremely huge amount of money. Instead of trying to cut HEAD COUNT, why not look at outsourcing some programs the system offers. Last year it was offering vouchers to students to go to private schools. Offer the student another one of the PUBLIC schools to go to. Several private schools now offer tuition assistance if someone wants to go to a private school. The Senate could for example look at the mentally challenge programs in the school. These programs take up HEAD COUNT, classroom space, buses, etc. Outsource the mentally challenged program. I am not picking on any particular segment. Wondered if Senate has thought about renting the land some of the schools are built on to businesses they could provide services back to the school? Contract the cafeteria's. Just saying

  • Paul Jones Jul 1, 2015
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    View quoted thread

    What you are suggesting is that she has enough household income to not qualify for government assistance.

    What I said in my post was just a statement of fact, not opinion. So, there is nothing in it for you to disagree with. I just stated facts about how some states make a determination about welfare eligibility.

  • Paul Jones Jul 1, 2015
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    That's not the definition of aiding or abetting. Just because you SUSPECT illegal activity does not make there IS illegal activity. Living in a large home, having a new car, etc. does not mean one is violating the law getting welfare. I don't know the laws in NC (as I've been fortunate enough to not need it), but some states do not count one's resources (savings in the bank, cars, etc.) toward qualification for welfare. Rather, some states count only income. And that makes sense. One should not be forced to sell a car to buy food, making it impossible to drive to a job interview.

  • Theo Bishop Jul 1, 2015
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    This is why people need to watch who they are voting for. The republicans have set (NC) back about 30 years with everything in the state.

  • Elizabeth Anne Wells Jul 1, 2015
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    John Jones - Turn her in. If you know this is happening and you keep quiet, you are aiding and abetting her getting by with this.

    I support the teacher's assistants. My grandson's teacher's assistant did more for him than the teacher.

  • Lorna Schuler Jul 1, 2015
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    Reducing class size means you must have more available class rooms. Which in turn means more building of schools/school rooms.

    Yes, it is true that when many of us older folks were coming up there were not TA's in the classroom. That was indeed a different time and Gary Huston pretty much nails it .... Behavior of children (or lack thereof), learning disabilities (a whole other story) lack of discipline and or personal accountability (should be taught to all ages) and yes, parental involvement and volunteerism. I know, many parents have to work during the day to provide.
    Though I don't have any school age children, I do understand the long term importance of education. I for one am fed up with our so called leaders consistently cutting education budgets....except at the top where the bureaucracy (school boards etc) is bloated.

  • Roy Hinkley Jul 1, 2015
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    NC is required to have a balanced budget, so this isn't what happens when you balance the budget. This is what happens when you reduce the budget.

  • Jim Buchanan Jul 1, 2015
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    View quoted thread