State budget battle leaves Wake teacher assistants in limbo

Posted July 23, 2014

— Whether Josette Beller will be employed on the first day of school is not up to her or her boss.

Instead, her job, along with those of dozens of other Wake County teacher assistants, is in the hands of legislators as they hash out an updated state budget.

“We don’t know if we are going to have our jobs when school starts,” said Beller, a teacher assistant at Millbrook Elementary.

Lawmakers have not reached a budget deal as of Wednesday but say there is good dialogue between the Senate and House. At issue is how much to spend on teacher assistants and teacher raises.

Senate leaders said Tuesday they will stick with raising teacher salaries by more than 8 percent on average and cutting funding for teacher assistants in third-grade classrooms. The Senate originally cut funding for second and third-grade classrooms.

The House wants a 6 percent raise for teachers with no loss of teacher assistants.

Beller had no opinion regarding the ongoing debate.

“I don’t even know what to say about that,” she said.

But Beller was blunt about the impact of not having the job she loves.

“It is enough of a hit to our household that I can’t go without this job,” she said.


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  • Terry Watts Jul 25, 2014
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    "Merit Pay"... How do you measure a teachers performance??? By testing the students to a defined standard...

    I have no issue with Merit Pay per se, but if we are looking to move away from standardization and testing, merit pay is NOT the way to go...

  • Doug Pawlak Jul 25, 2014
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    Exactly. The idea of merit pay isn't new, it's all been tried before only to be ended at the first hint of budget troubles.

  • John McCray Jul 24, 2014
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    They tried that over and over for years, and as employees begin to demonstrate higher skills and exhibit skills that justify higher pay, the Legislature freezes the programs that were enacted.

  • annemarek Jul 24, 2014

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    It seems that there a lot of class discrimination. Administrators are on the upper food chain and the TA don't deserve to eat. If I were in charge I would want a time study of what these administrators and executives do with their time. I know what the TA's do..they are busy help teaching our children. And as someone mentioned before, there are behavior issues that did not exist years ago. Some of the executive and administrator salaries are ski high. Yes , I want a time study.

  • Daryl Hales Jul 24, 2014
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    Why not cut out all those executives and administrative positions, and assistant admin positions. These would more than pay for teacher raises, and may even give the Wake County TA's full pay status. Afterall, they were had their pay cut by $1500 to $2000, a couple of years ago. Also, if the teachers get raises, the TA's get nothing, no allotments from county, oh I forgot UNEMPLOYMENT may pay more.

    TA's have been around in kindergarden to 3rd grades for least 40 years. My class had a TA in first grade in 1971.

  • crod397 Jul 24, 2014

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    I teach Special education. What are the realistic expectations for my class versus a teacher who teachers Honors courses? Special Education teachers are stuck in a hard spot and nobody wants that position because of the paperwork!

    The idea of a strike by all teachers could work, but it would take all to do it. As someone else said, who's wanting to come to NC to work as a teacher that's under paid. I'm going on 5 years and making the same thing as a new teacher is hard to swallow.

  • Dan Courtine Jul 24, 2014
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    For those wishing the state employees would all get raises, I believe you're not getting anything because you're not fighting for it. Should you have to fight? No. But in this world, you need to. The teachers have been vocal. They have rallied others. The state employees from what I've seen have only expressed their disappointment on boards like this. Get organized and get vocal. Make your point heard instead of just speaking of it here.

  • Lamborghini Mercy Jul 24, 2014

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    Who's exactly lining up to fill those positions, better yet, who's there to hire/fire if everyone is on strike? If thousands of teachers went on strike that causes an immediate impact that forces attention, nationally. Feasibly, It'll take nearly a year to refill all of those positions, and if those teachers pulled their benefits and went on unemployment, this only leads to bigger complex problems at the state level ultimately costing a lot more than simply fixing the problem head on. Frankly, I'd bet every dime in my account legislators compromise.

  • jughead25 Jul 24, 2014

    In defense of TAs, let us not forget that today's classrooms are inclusion classrooms. Children who require extra attention due to behavioral or learning problems benefit from the help of TAs. The children who do not require extra attention also benefit from the TA because they are able to focus on the lesson given by the teacher. In contrast, when I was in school any child outside the "norm" was placed in a special classroom for behavior, learning disability, or whatever. The point being that in today's learning environment TAs are necessary for crowd control. I say give all our civil servants a raise and tax us for it (sales or property tax). They have some of the toughest, most thankless jobs in the US and I thank them for their continued service because I know I wouldn't want to do it!

  • sisu Jul 24, 2014

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    Well, in your and my day the teachers/principals had paddles and the authority to use them. I don't think that was the best as my brother was unfortunate enough to be under the rule of a paddle-happy teacher and that was bad.

    Still, teachers these days have so many hoops to jump through and there are virtually no consequences for the worst misbehavior. For kids who basically toe the line there are consequences for the slightest infraction (silent lunch, etc.) but for the real troublemakers they know they can get away with it. Everyone knows it. The teachers' hands are tied, the principal won't do anything about it. I don't know if the principals' hands are tied also or if it varies by principal but at my kids' schools the kids who ruin the class for everyone else know that if their parents are okay with that, there is nothing the school can/will do.