Teaching assistant cuts remain in NC budget plan

Teaching assistants talk to lawmakers at the NC legislature on Wednesday.

A number of attempts were made Wednesday to prevent the NC senate from cutting funds that would result in the elimination of close to 14,000 teaching assistants – however those attempts failed.

The attempts Wednesday began with a face-to-face lobbying of senators by teaching assistants — and ended when several amendments to restore teaching assistant funding were shot down.

Teaching assistants from around the state walked the halls of the general assembly — desperate to explain to senators what they do and why they need to stay in the classrooms.

“I would like a senator to come and follow me one day in the classroom and see the diversity of education we have to deal with and the type of students we deal with,” said Lacy Autry of the NC Association Of Teaching Assistants

As the senate went into session they recognized the teaching assistants who were sitting in the gallery. They were teaching assistants who watched in frustration as attempts were made to restore funding for their positions.

“..cutting 8592 teaching assistants is not the answer to the failing schools now being rated d ‘s and f’s,” said Sen Gladys Robinson, a Democrat from Guilford County.

But her amendment to restore the funding failed.

Then Senator Terry Van Duyn tried to shift funds to pay for the teaching assistants.

“ What this amendment does is that it restores the funds for teachers assistants and pays for it by eliminating the corporate tax cut,” the Democrat from Buncombe County said.

But Republicans couldn’t be persuaded .

“When we look at teaching assistants we have a finite amount of money and we want to spend it the best way we possibly can to educate students in the classroom,” said Sen Dan Soucek of Caldwell County.

Despite the defeats in the senate the teaching assistants who attended say they are counting on the house to keep that funding intact.

The house budget did not cut teaching assistant funds and the teaching assistants hope funding for them will make it into the conference committee version of the bill.

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