Budget cuts could lead to biggest layoff in state history

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The North Carolina Senate approved it's proposed budget last Thursday, and if left unchanged, it would lead to the worst layoff in state history. The budget contains proposed cuts to teacher assistant funding that would eliminate over 8,500 positions over the next two years. Teacher assistants play vital roles in the classroom, and their absence would be felt, in addition to the thousands of educators left looking for work.


The loss of teacher assistants would continue a trend seen by many school districts in the East. In Pitt County, the proposed budget would reduce the number of TA’s from 190 to 140.

“They’re not just making copies and putting up bulletin boards,” said Emily Klinedinst, a teacher of 16 years. “They are running reading groups, they are teaching lessons, they are working with groups of children.”



  1. Tim Peck's avatar
    Tim Peck
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    Research shows that teacher assistants have no discernible effect on student achievement.<br /> http://goo.gl/IiJgzf
  2. Lori Barnes's avatar
    Lori Barnes
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    If you go back to this same dicussion as it played out in the articles and letters in The News and Observer last summer, you will understand that the research cited by state senators was misrepresented to the point that one researcher contacted the paper to clarify his study's conclusions. His point was that assistants be used for classroom management and school support duties to better allow teachers to focus on differentiated instruction and in-depth planning; both of which have a substantial impact on student achievement, particularly in the early grades. This is precisely how most TAs are used. My 28 years of experience in k-2 education and common sense indicate that, at the very least, so many young children deserve the supervision of 2 adults for their safety and well being.<br /> lbb
  3. Ken's avatar
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    Research shows that research conducted by the John Locke Foundation has very little to do with reality.
  4. Matthew Poston's avatar
    Matthew Poston
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    I appreciate everything my TA's have done for my students, many things that include allowing me to continue the lesson. One thing is for sure. If it is not Berger and his cronies assaulting education and TA's, it is teachers themselves. Mr. Peck how many days a week do you spend volunteering in the classroom? If you spent any insurmountable time observing TA's you would have a new profound respect for what they do to educate children.
  5. Jason's avatar
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    Once again the powers that be show their ignorance toward the need to improve the education in NC. Their personal agenda of pushing for school vouchers and creating Charter schools to help segregate the learning communities and to use less qualified, uncertified teachers to teach children. Wake up NC before all the good teachers and teacher assistants leave for other states. NC is right on course to be last in every category in education.
  6. Jason's avatar
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    I also like how those who have no clue believe that teacher assistants don't have any impact on learning. These people need to go sit in a special education classroom (oh I forgot Charter Schools don't serve those students with special needs...Thomas Jefferson, etc.)
  7. Susan's avatar
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    I would love to know what this MR. PECK does for a living. What research?? Would love to read their findings and how it was conducted. My advice to him is to volunteer in any K - 2 classroom...his eyes will be opened! I've taught 30 years and will go one more year; having a TA in my room for the little bit of time I get her is a huge help. She often takes small groups for intervention or practice; like the other person said, if a student is suddenly sick or having some difficulty, she can take over with the student's issues while I continue instruction....The list could go on and on....People who constantly attack education &amp; educators are doing more harm to education than good. By the way, if you can read this, thank an educator; if you're holding a good job...Thank an educator. Wake up Mr. Peck!
  8. Sallie's avatar
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    This is such a HUGE mistake! Anyone who knows anything about education and cares anything about children and the future, knows that this is a really bad move. There are teachers who are coming straight out of school and need the seasoned teacher assistant in their classroom to help them put into action in the real world what they have learned in a class room full of children. It's not as easy as you think Mr. Peck. I challenge you to handle a classroom full of young children all alone. There are so many things that TAs do that you have no idea about. It is my belief that children need all the assistance that they can get to become well adjusted, productive citizens. The people in Raleigh (yes, Mr. Berger I am talking to you too,) need to get smart and put money where it will really impact the future...education. I challenge all those who think this idea is so great to start spending time in their local schools and then make a truly educated decision.
  9. Jean Brown's avatar
    Jean Brown
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    I worked as a teacher assistant and tutor. Had reading group while the teacher worked with a reading group. We rotated, that way the teacher worked with every student in her class. A teacher has to be created enough to find time for the mountain of paperwork she has to do that the assistant isn't allowed to. There are group activities and self contain activities and learning going on all day that must have supervision. Not counting the paper work an assistant has to do plus many more activities. Every K-4 teachers should have an TA. That way a teacher would not have to spend their evenings at home doing the paper work. Because the TA has done some of what she is allowed to do .
  10. Iris Clover's avatar
    Iris Clover
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    Quick question. How many aids work in the legislative building in Raleigh? How many senators and congressmen have aids in their offices. Do they run off their own papers, answer their own phone, open all of their mail, arrange their own travels? Or are they so busy they do not have time for these duties. Do they have to find someone to cover for them to go to the bathroom or eat their lunch in a 30 minute time frame that includes walking 20 students to a cafeteria; getting them through a serving line; and then rushing to a quiet place to eat their own lunch 10-15 minutes into their "30 minute free lunch period"? I think not! Come walk in my shoes for a while.
  11. Renee's avatar
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    Research shows that is better to be quiet than to open your mouth and confirm your ignorance. TAs are an important part of the children's foundation for education and a priceless asset to the teachers. Not sure how cutting in education improves education. This state is ridiculous.
  12. Linda Campbell's avatar
    Linda Campbell
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    I especially like the comment about Congressmen having assistants. Government is the first place to start reducing the spending. <br /> Teachers and teacher assistants work so hard to prepare children for their future. I know I did as an assistant. I would feel so bad for the teachers and children if they were cut.<br /> And I somehow missed the point of why you would cut some and not all if assistants are so unimportant. Oh, could it be that they do matter? Yes they do!
  13. Gail Ward's avatar
    Gail Ward
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    Research has told the tale for many years. I have worked in districts where we slashed TAs long before the state budget. MANY things that need to be done during a school day can not take place without TA help. Research ALSO clearly shows that lower student/teacher ratios produce higher student achievement. Will we be hiring more teachers with this money??? P.S. - You really shouldn't comment on this unless you have been in a public school lately, during the day when instruction is taking place!!! If you haven't seen it in the last 2 years, you don't know what you are talking about!
  14. James Bazán's avatar
    James Bazán
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    In third grade, a TA discovered I needed to be a more advanced reading group because I was getting bored by the normal group. She had time to watch my eyes skip ahead while others read. After a while, I was in a group by myself. My previous (religious) school didn't have TAs; the overwhelmed teacher just assumed I couldn't focus, and so kept demoting me. That TA changed my life for the better.
  15. Jennifer's avatar
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    As a TA in a SCMC (self contained multi catagory) special education class, the FEDERAL law dictates that you may only have so many to a class. Regular ed TAs enable a teacher to complete the mountains of paperwork that is now dictated of them and still keep children learning. Also, many districts now require TAs to drive buses. I am also a bus driver for my district on top of classroom duties, to include a certificate to teach a reading program, oh and TAs are now required to have AT LEAST an Associates Degree to hold this position. Our jobs are not just standing around, making copies, and playing with bulletin boards.
  16. Daniel Craig's avatar
    Daniel Craig
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    Research also shows that uneducated and politically ideology driven people elected to the NCGA are harmful to one's health and the state's economy !!
  17. Doug Jones's avatar
    Doug Jones
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    I noticed many of the Teacher Assistant's comments and situation are almost identical to many situations here in Pitt County. With North Carolina having the 3rd highest fuel tax in the nation, and also, now having the "North Carolina Education Lottery" that was initiated to use the funds that are generated slated to go to education costs, I want to know where those 100's of millions of dollars are going, so that we now have to "cut" a vital EDUCATIONAL position? Just the gas tax alone represents a tremendous amount of revenue. If it were properly dispersed the T/A's salaries would easily be covered, since they don't make much money anyway. Just barely over the minimum wage. I believe the NC legislators are clueless as to what these TA's actually do on a daily basis. We have NEVER seen even one of them visit a school here in Pitt County. Cutting over 7200 jobs with many in the late 50 age group with 17-18 years of tenure is outright age discrimination! The NC Legislatures know full well of the 20 year requirement for medical insurance. It seems somewhat suspicious to all of a sudden lay these assistants off at a point in their life that is still critical for needed employment. Especially when they have excellent performance review history and work all day, and then drive a bus for several hours. My question is: WHO WILL DRIVE THE BUSES WHEN THEY FIRE ALL OF THEM? Not the teachers! I presume they will "save the taxpayer" a lot of money by just hiring part-time drivers so they don't have to pay benefits. They better think of what they are doing now and the repercussions that will follow after this is done. I don't know where this comment will go but I just had to say something. Too bad very few others are saying anything.<br /> NOTE: Feel free to post this comment and name but DO NOT post this email address. I do not want solicitation.
  18. Susan Stevenson's avatar
    Susan Stevenson
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    Over e last eight years, I have served as a curriculum support instructor in our school system. Our teacher assistants help us in so many ways. I have no idea how elementary schools can manage without them. Their day begins with hallway, car and cafeteria duty. Thus allowing classroom teachers to greet their students in the mornings in the classroom.<br /> As soon as they return to class they begin small group reading lessons with children.<br /> We already feel the cuts that have been made in previous years. The assistants are shared with multiple teachers so once the lessons are completed at one grade level, the assistant moves on to help another grade level of three teachers. The assistant returns to the K-3 level and helps with math lessons, computer lessons, writing and the list goes on and on! Those same assistants help with bus and car duty in the afternoons.<br /> In our school we use assistants to help us with coverage for in- house staff development. It is vital that some staff development happens during the day when we can actually model lessons with students.<br /> As someone before me has already stated, teacher assistants are also trained bus drivers. They not only substitute for bus drivers but they also drive for any field trips our students take. <br /> I certainly hope that North Carolina will reconsider this budget cut. It will be detrimental to elementary education. Every summer it seems like we hear more and more disappointing news in terms of educating our children. It is my hope that this news will take a positive turn. No doubt about it, we need to keep our teacher assistants.
  19. Sandra's avatar
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    I, myself kept up with how many days I had to take over the classroom and " teach" because the teacher was planning or testing this past year. The total was 21 DAYS. How will the teacher do the testing and planning when we are no longer in the classroom? That is a month out of the year that the teacher was not in the classroom teaching.
  20. Gail Hester's avatar
    Gail Hester
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    People on the outside lookin in don't see the whole story. Go to your child's school, visit several classes to see for yourself what is going on.. I am a TA in the Bladen County School system. I seldom run copies, I may occasionally put up a bulletin board. I work one on one with the children, some of which may be below grade level. I help bring that child/children up to and above grade level. I work side by side with the teacher. Several times through out the year teachers are required to do one on one testing with the children. There is a small window of time in which she has to get this done and all scores in. Who do you think carries on the group teaching while this testing is being done, your TA's. It's not one child but 18 to 25 students in a class. I am a TEACHER ASSISTANT we work with children, we teacher, we counsel, we parent, we are sometimes a nurse, we are sometimes the only friend a child has, we see to it children are fed. Some do not eat after they leave school for the day. We are also mediators, we are Teacher Assistants, we nurture, we teach, we supervise, we care, we love what we do... Sometimes a child is coming in from a bad home situation and they ask us to pray with them and for them. Why do you want to put a child that needs that one on one at risk of not getting that little bit of special attention to hopefully bring him/her up to grade level and keep them there.
  21. A Kendall's avatar
    A Kendall
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    It's unlikely that Tim Peck actually read his source. I followed his link--to the John Locke Foundation, a decidedly biased source--which asserted that support personnel don't positively impact student outcomes. That linked to another site on the John Locke sight which did not mention support personnel at all. I followed the link on that second page to the report. The report concluded that there wasn't enough research on the effect of teachers assistants to draw much of a conclusion (16 studies out of nearly 900 that they surveyed), but according to their own results, none of the studies showed a negative impact of teachers assistants on student outcomes. Some 69% showed mixed or insignificant results, while 31% showed positive results.<br /> <br /> Now, I wouldn't call this *no* discernible effect. But let us consider the metrics the John Locke Foundation uses to measure student outcomes. Test scores, drop-out rates, college admissions. We're talking about teachers assistants in early elementary classrooms. How are any of these metrics remotely relevant to that context? How many other factors might obscure the effects of teachers assistants until they become relevant, and are those controlled for? What metrics did the 16 studies cited use to measure student success?<br /> <br /> Research and policy is much more than being able to throw up a link from a conservative think tank. You actually have to use some higher-order thinking skills.
  22. Don Goosman's avatar
    Don Goosman
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    The writer of this post needs to learn the correct use of "it's" which is used INCORRECTLY in the first line of text ... should read: The North Carolina Senate approved ITS proposed budget ...
  23. Devonia McNeill's avatar
    Devonia McNeill
    | Permalink
    Teachers Assistants are really teachers without the teachers pay. The government is getting a bargain with the amount of work that we do and the IMPACT we have on the students. I am all for whatever would be best for our children and their future. Getting rid of Assistants is not it.
  24. Jan Bobbitt's avatar
    Jan Bobbitt
    | Permalink
    my son attended a Charter school we get zero government funding! No lottery money either for education...the parents, moms, such as myself volunteer our time to our teachers to show we appreciate them, their work and we are interactive with our own children as well as others and its nice to be a part of that team and to see my child develop, also to see his needs if any...its really a wonderful gift and memories to add to the treasure and for those that work full time be greatful for parents like us that DON"T get paid, our rewards are seen daily...I have volunteered and taught all subjects and did not need any degree although I hold a degree in Science and Biology ...I too want what's best for our children but to agree with paying TA's I cannot state I agree as again WE at the charter schools handle the issues because we don't get PAID!
  25. Jan Bobbitt's avatar
    Jan Bobbitt
    | Permalink
    my son attended a Charter school we get zero government funding! No lottery money either for education...the parents, moms, such as myself volunteer our time to our teachers to show we appreciate them, their work and we are interactive with our own children as well as others and its nice to be a part of that team and to see my child develop, also to see his needs if any...its really a wonderful gift and memories to add to the treasure and for those that work full time be greatful for parents like us that DON"T get paid, our rewards are seen daily...I have volunteered and taught all subjects and did not need any degree although I hold a degree in Science and Biology ...I too want what's best for our children but to agree with paying TA's I cannot state I agree as again WE at the charter schools handle the issues because we don't get PAID!
  26. Julie Pierce's avatar
    Julie Pierce
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    Mr. Peck....please go work in one school without TA's and then let us know how you feel! Make sure it is a kindergarten room that has several crying, one using the bathroom in their pants, one throwing up or maybe several that cannot even write their name! Then let us know your valuable opinion!
  27. Tami's avatar
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    I can manipulate research to show that cows taste like chicken! Research will say what we want it to say.<br /> I would love for the law makers in Raleigh to spend a day with 17 Kindergarteners, without a Teacher's Assistant. They would reverse their decision immediately. Heck....I'll be nice and drop it to 10 Kindergarteners. The law makers couldn't make it a day.
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