NC Education Cuts Force Out Thousands Of Teacher Assistants
Since the 2008 recession, North Carolina has seen a twenty percent cut in funding for teacher assistants, resulting in 7000 fewer TAs working in North Carolina classrooms. Despite assurances from state lawmakers that no teacher assistant positions would need to be cut, districts across the state reported funding shortfalls directly attributed to the legislature. From WUNC's article,
Public school districts throughout the state have fewer teacher assistants in the classrooms this academic year than the previous year, despite assurances from lawmakers that the state budget would not lead to TA reductions.
Since the 2008-09 recession, state funding for TAs has been reduced by more than 20 percent, leading to thousands of cuts.
In Cumberland County Schools, teacher assistant Grace King begins her day driving a school bus.
After her shift is over at 8:15 am, she rolls into the lot of Cumberland Mills Elementary School, sweeps the candy wrappers and dirt off the bus, and heads to a first-grade classroom.
“I get ready to do my TA time, my other job – my paying job,” says King.
King has been a teacher assistant for 17 years. Like many other TAs, she drives a bus as part of a school district requirement.
In the classroom, she heads straight to a little brown table and begins going over sight words with an excited group of first-graders.
King says part of her job description is to be flexible – to work with individual students, fill in for teachers, take phone calls and drive buses. During the school day she splits her time between two first-grade classrooms.
“Over the years, things have really changed,” she says. “At one time, first-graders did have a full-time assistant, kindergardeners had a full-time assistant. But with the cuts going on, you’re lucky to have a job.”
King says it’s been a while since her school had teacher assistants for second and third-grades.
“Back in the day, honey,” she says. “A lot of things used to happen back in the day.”