Proposed budget cut angers TAs, parents
The proposed budget cut that would eliminate over 8,500 jobs is angering people all over the state. Both angry teacher assistants and furious parents are vying for more support from state legislators, urging them to not to concede on the Senate budget. Killing these jobs would not only mean making thousands of people unemployed, it would threaten the attention needed for many students inside the classroom-- the attention that teacher assistants live to give.
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.
"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. John 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.