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Local teachers lobby state lawmakers to keep teacher assistant jobs

Local teachers lobby state lawmakers to keep teacher assistant jobs

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GREENVILLE, N.C. -

More jobs in our state are on the chopping block. This time, the governor has his sights set on teacher assistants.   

Those positions cut the teacher-to-student ratio in half and allow educators to give each student specialized attention.

"Children don't learn at the same rate," says Lynn Owens, a 2nd grade teacher assistant at Wintergreen Primary in Winterville. "They don't get information at the same rate. And we're able to assist with that to help keep children moving."

Owens has been a teaching assistant for more than a decade and says providing one-on-one time is critical in helping young students achieve long-term success, especially in reading.

But under Gov. Pat McCrory's proposed budget, 3,000 teaching assistants like Owens would lose their jobs. 

"My biggest concern is for the students," she says. "I'm concerned about them falling behind and the pressure that will go on the teacher to continue to provide the same thing without having any extra help."

It's a concern shared by teachers.

"I can't even put a value on how much having a teacher assistant means to me and to my kids," says Lauren Bays, a first-year 2nd grade teacher at Wintergreen Primary. "Without Ms. Owens, we would lose a lot of instructional time. We already have parents that are worried about their students being behind, and without a teacher assistant, that's another person in the classroom that they're going to lose."

But they're not giving up. On Monday, more than a dozen Pitt County educators set out for our state capitol to lobby lawmakers to vote against the cutbacks.

"We encourage our legislators to be teacher assistants for a day – to go into the classroom and walk in the shoes of a teacher assistant and really understand why they are so important in our classrooms," says Mary Robinson, a high school math teacher and the president of the Pitt County Association of Educators.

Owens added, "[State legislators] keep wanting children to grow and have all these expectations for the children and I'm concerned about them being able to meet those expectations when you take people out of the classroom."

At the same time, Gov. McCrory's proposed budget sets aside money to hire 1,800 full-time teachers over the next two years.

 

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