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BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Teacher assistants around the state are fighting to keep their jobs after Governor Pat McCrory announced cutting jobs in his budget plan.

More than 3,000 teacher assistants could be impacted if McCrory’s plan passes.

North Carolina’s teacher assistant of the year William Johnston says TA’s play a big part of a child’s education. Johnston, a TA at Booker T. Washington Primary School in Clarkton, says they are there for the kids, and if their jobs are cut, the greatest impact will be on the children. He says with the job a teacher has today, they do not have the time to give extra attention to the students. “That’s where we come in. We work with the teacher in a partnership to help make sure that that child succeeds. To work with the low performing students, in order to help move them to proficiency. To take the middle ones and keep them moving forward, and also take our high ones and move them in the direction,” Johnston said.

Governor McCrory’s plan would add 5,000 slots for at-risk children in the state’s pre-kindergarten program. Although the Governor’s proposed budget would take away 3,000 TA jobs, it would add almost 2,000 full-time teaching positions. The plan would cut funding for teacher assistants except for in kindergarten and the first grade.

Johnston thinks if these cuts go into effect we will see a drop in test scores over time. “I think it’s important to help children in kindergarten and especially through the third grade to help establish an educational foundation for them to build on to continue to grow and go forth,” Johnston said.

Johnston wants legislators to know the value of teacher assistants. He thinks people should speak out to let them know how important TA’s are.

Comment on this Story

  • I would like to know what the Governor would do “without” his aides?
    Let’s find out how much they make and let’s cut their salaries and keep teachers aides salaries. I truly believe what our teachers and teachers aides do is far more important. What the Governor is saying is …….Teachers aides are dispensable, not important, not essential.
    Governor go into s classroom for a week and see for yourself.
    I can’t believe you are even considering this action.

  • doesn’t matter

    I would simply just like to know where the classrooms are to hold the additional teachers they speak of hiring when they get rid of the assistants? I would think in many cases that would mean we need more classrooms, desks, chairs, books, etc. Which equals MORE MONEY.

  • Charles Whitley

    Isn’t this playing right into the Democrats’hands? We’re already way behind many countries in education, so why continue the “dumbing down”? We gripe about the democrats taking advantage of the “uninformed” voters so why would we continue to fill those ranks? makes no sense whatsoever.

  • Dawna Daves

    I’m saddened that we are the first targeted for job cuts. I am a Teacher Assistant for my county. This year has been a hard year with students who have mild to severe behavior issue. Since most counties are trying to mainstream these kids into a normal setting, it takes two professionals in the classroom to keep their students successful. Without two trained, qualified persons in the room….a Teacher is left with trying to teach a class of 20 or more students without any help, while addressing behavior problems in the class which can be very distracting. I hope that Governor McCroy will visit some of NC schools, to get a better understanding of the need for Teacher Assistants. Administration can only do so much to ensure student success. We depend on great teachers to teach our children. But, without help they, the teacher cannot address each childs needs especially those EOG testing. You will see a drastic decline in scores. Rethink where budget cuts need to take place, don’t take it from our children. Please keep our TA’s. Thank you..

  • Here-We-Go-Again

    Well comrades, they’ve done it to us again; run out on us that is. It happened at the end of the 2010-2011 school year and now it’s happening to us again. If you’re able, lay a hurtin’ on their budget and go out on retirement or disability if you have to. I read a lot of good 2 cents sense in this column but really we work for the lowest of all salaries within the school districts and when any local administration can sneak our salaries off to a grant fund and not tell you anything about it, well we’re basically working for leadership that doesn’t care anything about us, the kids, the existing staffs or even themselves for that matter. Local LEa’s are the hardest thing DPI as to deal with anyway. It’s time for a top down reorganization of the system – and I say: give the LEA’s the boot forever, turn the state DPI into basically a purchasing department for the federal government and turn the whole thing over to them (the Federalies) to run however they want to – then take your kids to private church run schools so that you can get the education for your child you feel is best (using your voucher). Sure it’ll undermine the whole system and it’ll collapse from within, but that’s what wanted anyway – so let them have it. Get your’s on your way out the door.

    Good luck everyone,

  • TBaxter

    I am a Teacher Assistant and love my job. I care about the education of our children so much that I have gone back to college to get my Teaching Degree. A Teacher Assistant is not JUST a Teacher Assistant. In the society we have today it takes a mom and a dad working to take care of the children and provide for them. We live in a very fast paced world. When I was in school, we had 32 to 35 children in a classroom. When we got home mom was there to help with homework. Listen people, times have changed. We were disciplined in school when we did something wrong and I am not talking about being fussed at, I am talking being sent to the office and being paddled, a phone call home, get home and it was worse at home than it was at school. In the area I am from, a lot of children get home and take care of themselves. A Teacher Assistant is an educator, a mom, a grandmother, a nurse, a doctor, a mentor, and a friend. We work all day to educate the children in North Carolina. We are not in a room making copies all day. We have plans where we take groups of children and actually teach. Many times we end up being the sub in a room where a Teacher has got to leave because they are sick or something has happened that they need to leave. We as Teacher Assistants continue with what the Teacher was teaching, so the classroom is not disrupted just because the Teacher has to leave. Teacher Assistants are needed. I will take any of you on, on any given day, and just come and walk in my shoes for a day. We need to give the children of North Carolina the education they deserve and it takes the Teacher Assistants to help do this. We have to love our jobs, or with the pay we get, we would not stay with it. Leave our education along and let the Teachers and the Assistants do what they need to do to give our children the best education we can.

  • TA

    I think that the governor needs to rethink this. Teacher assistants do more than just assist the teacher. They drive the school bus, assist classrooms with EOG training and just pretty much help the school to run smoothly. To get rid of the TA’s would mean to let an entire school down, and put more pressure on the teacher. That would mean less focus on teaching.

  • Michelle R

    As an Elementary School teacher I am always amazed at the fact of how underrated Lawmakers or how insignicant they place on the role of the Teacher Assistants in the classroom, and not that I am not all about our kids learning what they can from the use of technology and how important it will be in the future, but I believe that kids benefit just as much having two teachers in the classroom to help meet their needs and bridge those academic gaps. I would like to see
    TA’s in grades K-3, and then starting in the 4th grade let them benefit from all this technology information. The Governor is looking at cutting 3,000 TA positions, but creating 5,000 Pre-K slots, those TA positions that are at risk to being cut those individuals can move to Pre-K, one thing for sure NO PRE-K CLASSROOM CAN OPERATE WITH OUT A TEACHER ASSISTANT.

  • From a future teacher

    I wanted to thank everyone for their comments. I am a student teacher here in NC, and the comments have helped me to understand what lies ahead of me. If I can add a humble opinion, we need every adult we can in the classroom to keep our kids not only safe, but get them educated. My hat is off to the people that have to make these hard decisions. I really feel the passion everyone has towards teaching our children. That can only be a good thing.

  • Vog46

    “pay him well and do away with tenure so that the lower performing ones can be gotten rid of.”
    They alredy CAN do this
    NC General Statutes 115C-325:
    ” (e)
    Grounds for Dismissal or Demotion of a Career Employee.
    (1) Grounds. – No career employee shall be dismissed or demoted or employed on a part‑time basis except for one or more of the following:
    a. Inadequate performance.
    b. Immorality.
    c. Insubordination.
    d. Neglect of duty.
    e. Physical or mental incapacity.
    f. Habitual or excessive use of alcohol or nonmedical use of a controlled substance as defined in Article 5 of Chapter 90 of the General Statutes.
    g. Conviction of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude.
    h. Advocating the overthrow of the government of the United States or of the State of North Carolina by force, violence, or other unlawful means.
    i. Failure to fulfill the duties and responsibilities imposed upon teachers or school administrators by the General Statutes of this State.
    j. Failure to comply with such reasonable requirements as the board may prescribe.
    k. Any cause which constitutes grounds for the revocation of the career teacher’s teaching license or the career school administrator’s administrator license.
    l. A justifiable decrease in the number of positions due to district reorganization, decreased enrollment, or decreased funding, provided that there is compliance with subdivision (2).
    m. Failure to maintain his or her license in a current status.
    n. Failure to repay money owed to the State in accordance with the provisions of Article 60, Chapter 143 of the General Statutes.
    o. Providing false information or knowingly omitting a material fact on an application for employment or in response to a preemployment inquiry.”

    Here’s the REAL problem.
    No one has come up with a good performance measurement for teachers.
    Why? Well a LOT of their performance may be based on tests taken by the student. How much effort the student puts in may affect the test score so you’d be terminating a teacher for something he/she has no control over.
    But the means exist for termination if the Principle maintains adequate documentation of the perceived under performance.

    Oh and BTW – the above mentioned standard applies to all tenured positions not just teachers.
    So if test scores go down district wide I would assume we could terminate the superintendent.

    So if we can do this with a tenured government employee why can’t we do it with county commissioners?


  • Guest350

    A competent teacher should be able to handle a classroom without any assistant. When I went to school, there was no such thing as a teacher’s assistant. Everyone got a much better education than is the case now. Let’s get back to basics, one teacher per classroom, who is competent and efficient in his position, pay him well and do away with tenure so that the lower performing ones can be gotten rid of.

  • Teacher Assistant

    I am like some of the others on here who have said “You should come and shadow a teacher assistant!” I can not believe that you want to compare today with long ago. Long ago we did not have a teacher assistant in our classroom because our mothers were at home. And if the teacher were to have had to call her, I would have had my tail burned up, for causing trouble in the classroom. Now both parents work today, because things are not like ago. Long ago, there were not children with all kinds of labels in the classroom, like there is now. The teacher long ago, did not have to do as much testing as we do now. Technology has come along way, just look at what we are doing right now, you had only a radio or if you had money, you had a black and white tv. Long ago was a much simpler time, in my life as a child. Teachers have much more on their plates than they did years ago. The state expects more and more from the education system.

    Teacher Assistants help children who have fallen behind, have special needs, or who just plain don’t understand what is going on in the particular subject. Teacher Assistants help the teacher teach reading, mathematics, economics, and we are the people who take the child aside that does not get the help at home. I am an extension to the teacher, I do not run papers off all day, I do not grade papers all day. I am there with the teacher trying to help EACH child achieve the goal at hand. Educating children!!

  • Guest2020

    I have never understood the teacher’s assistant positions. When I was growing up, our teachers did all the work and our education was a lot better back then. Can anyone tell me what the assistants do that enhances my child’s education?

  • Guest1971

    I have often had the same thought…

  • Teacher Assistant

    Guest 2020,

    I would invite you to visit your local school and ask to shadow a teacher assistant for day! I think what you will find will be eye-opening. The students of today, the circumstances they come from, the curriculum, the testing is all different than when you were in school I am sure. As a teacher assistant I work directly with children instructing them each day. I teach reading, math, and reading intervention groups to assist students in mastering critical skills that they will need throughout life. I work along with the teacher in order to make sure all of our students show growth, and do not remain stagnant. I serve on committees, assist with planning, teaching, technology, and many other facts. I provide the additional time for struggling students that need one-on-one assistance to become proficient. I am there to greet your child in the morning, make sure they are safe throughout the day, and in some cases I am the one who safely transports your student back home safely when there is no one else to drive a bus. There is so much I do as a teacher assistant. I am a valuable asset to my classroom, my teacher, and my students. As a matter of fact my students don’t consider me a teacher assistant, they consider me their teacher because I make a difference in their lives. Things are not the same as they were when you or even my parents were in school. The parental and community support of that day and time are gone. We have students who come to school everyday who come from many different backgrounds. Some are neglected, some are hungry, some are uncared for,but we are expected to reach all students. All students are not on the same playing field as others, some need additional support, and some one-on-one attention. People don’t understand the job that we do because they have never been in our shoes, but I invite anyone to come shadow a teacher assistant, and I am sure you will see that WE DON’T JUST ASSIST THE TEACHER, PUT UP BULLETIN BOARDS, TAKE STUDENTS TO THE BATHROOM, ETC……..WE TEACH, AND WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

  • Guest11

    If you had a teacher assistant when growing up, maybe you would be smarter about this issue

  • Don Ward

    “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs”

  • Anne

    Very simple-anytime a budget cut-Check out education-that is one reason NC is rated 46th in pay for teachers! Dare you to count how often education has a cut!

  • Vog46

    Its hard to judge just what is an effective teacher.
    Number of students passed on to the next level?
    Number of drop outs?

    If there was a good metric the Legislature could make the point of setting measurable goals and insisting that teachers meet them.
    Conversely the other side cannot make the argument that pay equates to good education.
    Either way – North Carolina has LOUSY teachers that aren’t worth a darn
    North Carolina has parents that don’t work with their kids to learn

    Either way North Carolina loses……..


  • Vog46

    On the Star News blogs Chuck Kuebler and I have been going back and forth about a story that got very little press around here. As you know UNCW has formed a task force to look at the sports program because they are lacking sufficient funds to keep all athletics going. Why? Well the Seahawk boosters and alumni are not contributing like they do at the “big” schools like Chapel Hill. I made the comment that perhaps they will eliminate sports which gave Chuck a lot of heartburn.

    Then I quoted this article that has not been reported here:
    This article alluded to the possible closure of 2 UNC system schools. Of course that raised some hackles and I got the impression that he thought “Oh they wouldn’t do that Vog” from him. I then found this article on WWAY :

    So, we have a conservative Legislature that has cut UNC severely already – that has nominated a UNC Board of Governors that prompted this response from a legislator:
    “ Rep. Mickey Michaux of Durham says it’s a travesty Republicans didn’t support some Democrats to promote board diversity.
    House Majority Leader Edgar Starnes of Granite Falls says his side makes no apologies for electing Republicans.”

    If I were a betting man? I’d say it’s pretty certain 1 if not 2 campuses get closed and UNCW better look hard at what it does well as far as athletics are concerned and propose hard cuts to those sports that don’t perform.
    Otherwise the BoG may do it for them.


  • TopGuest

    I don’t think adding 2000 certified teaching positions is in any way a bad thing. In fact you are going to get a better yield with a trained professional with a smaller class size. He has even said he will keep TAs in K-1. I see this as a positive step toward our children’s early education.

  • Partly Cloudy

    Gone are the days when a K-1 classroom has a full time teaching assistant. The Teaching Assistants at my school spend time in kindergarten and first grade for the Reading and Writing portion of the day. They also assist with small group instruction in grades 2- 5. So… if a school is lucky enough to have Teaching Assistants… you can be assured that they are not always sitting around “playing” in a kindergarten classroom. They are in fact out teaching students reading, writing, and arithmetic.

  • B M

    If pouring money into the education system would buy education NC would have the smartest kids in the country, it’s time to take a different approach, slimming down the unnecessary help and putting the teacher back into the classroom in direct contact with their students will go a long way, if the teacher doesn’t want to work in the classroom then a career change is in order.

  • Teacher Assistant


    I suggest that you take a day out of your time, and shadow the job of a teacher assistant if you feel that they are unnecessary help. We as teacher assistants take nothing away from the teacher, and we are not asking anyone to pour additional money into education. However we are asking to maintain what we already have in place. The job of a teacher assistant is necessary. With the workload that has been placed upon the teacher through different avenues is overwhelming. I hope that you have a suggestion as to how you will accomodate the law that teachers receive duty free lunch. Who will monitor the children? Who will provide the additional intervention that a student needs when they do not grasp the concept in which the teacher has taught? Who will be there to help ensure additional safety from the time a student steps on campus until we put them on the bus to come home? Who will be there to take care of the diabetic student, the student with medical disabilities, and the handicap student? Who will be there to assist with the new common core and essential standards that require indepth knowledge and lesson plans? Who will be there to monitor and teacher the children when the teacher has to do testing that requires her to be out of the classroom the majority of a two week window three time a year? Who will be there to transport children home when they can find no one else to drive a bus. NECESSARY-I believe we are necessary because we are able to do many jobs, fill in wherever we are needed, and to ensure that the student has a solid educational foundation in which to build on. I will be looking forward to hearing from you when you have shadowed A REAL TEACHER ASSISTANT and see exactly what we do. I agree that more teachers are needed, but we deserve to be included in the budget, and our students deserve the opportunity and chance to succeed. Just my two cents worth! I hope that someone else doesn’t feel like you concerning your job, and think that your unnecessary! My job is important, I make a difference, and I deserve the right to be there for my students, to provide for my family, and to continue to make a difference!

  • Rudy

    In the top 3 countries for academics teachers are respected. They don’t work for a lot of money and do it because they love teaching and they love children. Perhaps the Governor should cut his pay and the legiislatures pay to set an example, rather than raising them as he did – what a hypocrite!. It bemuses me the disrepect that so many have for teachers1 But we revere money as if it were something tangible. Its the sign of a decayng nation where money and materialism become more important than people.

  • renoGuest

    The teachers can and should do everything you said. If they cant then they should be fired and replaced. Thats just the plain truth. There are too many assistants to every government job. Do your jobs and stop crying about it.
    We need to clean out more than teachers assistants in public schools.
    ( ATLANTIC FLORIDA UNIVERSITY ) stupid professor wanted students to stomp on a paper with the word Jesus on it. I for one have had enough and things are going to change. We are going to weed out the waste no more lies so your butts better bite those government job seats as hard as you can…..its just a matter of time and gone gone gone.

  • Clyde

    How about downsizing administration,in Rutherford county an old school fears turned into administration office, and walk in there at any time and they ain’t killing there’s elves..go in there and do like corp do , double up work assignments and get rid of half the staff

  • Guest Tomi Young



  • TiredofIgnorance

    I would love for you to take time out of your comfy schedule and sit in a classroom that has 41 students all low level 3s to 1s (yes this is a realistic classroom) and I want you to do all of what is required of us. Don’t forget you must include rigor in your lessons DAILY (if you don’t know what that is then you will be fired on the first day), have a discipline plan and, because of the level of the students, a back up discipline plan, oh and that day that your technology, you know the one you have to use DAILY, decides to say screw you I am not going to work today, back up lesson plans. Let’s not forget that 13 of these student’s have different I.E.P. goals (again if you don’t know what an IEP is turn in your resignation) which means you are differentiating you plans a total of 14 or more times because if you don’t you are in violation. And work is not over at 2:15 and if it is for you, please tell me when during the day you had time to grade papers, plans, talk to parents, EAT, reevaluate you lessons for a better delivery, etc. Oh and let’s not even mention the high school teachers who averages 90 students a semester so that’s at least 180 students taught by that one teacher a year. Hey did you know that there are plenty of teachers in NC on government assistance because they cannot afford to live off of their wages? But they still come in everyday to teach with a smile on their face amongst all of the scrunity they are receiving. So don’t tell me I don’t know how to do my damn job!!! I do it by myself because the county I am in is too poor to hire help. Help would greatly be appreciated. It will lessen my doctor bills I have from stress, sleep deprevation, anxiety, and did I mention STRESS from all the bull I have to do to see a measly 30 grand a year BEFORE taxes you better get you life and don’t come for us if YOU YOURSELF can’t handle this profession. People are quick to give their opinion on crap they have no expertise in. Thank you and good day!

  • Cynthia S



    As a proud former educator my hat goes off to all teachers, and teachers assistants. You are all are the most under paid and under appreciated of all the professional jobs when if it were not for you all there would be no mechanics lawyers doctors and you Sir Tomi Young who do you think you are berating teachers did you learn to read and write by osmosis did you learn to do math by osmosis no some teacher had to teach you and I bet if you look back on your school years you will find that it was one teacher who made a difference in your life. Now about these cut the Gov. ought to be ashamed of himself to even think about cutting education,and we wonder why kids who graduate cannot read at their grade level,but yet he has given his cronies raises he is going to have to answer to God on judgement day because the entire time he has been in office he has done nothing but oppress people and elevate himself and his cronies.

  • teach95

    Seriously, as a teacher of a kindergarten classroom, I just have to say if you are not an educator (and by that I mean actually in the classroom daily with students) then please keep your opinions to yourself. The comments about teachers needing to do everything and if we can’t then we should be replaced is crap!!!! It had to have come from someone who has no clue what it is like to be with 22 5 yr olds daily. I would love to see you do my job for one day. What would you do the first time one of the peed or pooped in their pants and you have to clean them up with no one else in the room with you. Hahahaha-I would pay money to sit back and watch. People who don’t teach have no idea what it takes and open their mouth looking stupid. I’m sick of people thinking all we do is play and babysit and only work 10 months out of the year. We spend out “summers off” planning for the next year because there is no time during the year to do so. We “get off at 3:45”-yeah right. We stay til 5 or 6 and then take work home. WE are the ones who make all other professions possible. So stop fighting us and help us help children become the best adults possible that contribute to society instead of taking from it!!!

  • My2hearts

    I agree with your comment! If you are not actually in the classroom you have NO idea what a teacher has to do and how demanding the job is!! They have no clue!!

  • Guest surry

    As a Teaching Assistant I am angered and repulsed by the argument that the State of North Carolina is cutting funding for my job to cover the over spending for Medicaid and Medicare. While I know there are people that receive medicaid and medicare that truly need it I also am aware in my county alone their are hundreds of individuals on disability that could be working. I know about people getting on disability that don’t need it and people selling their prescriptions that medicaid or medicare paid for. Instead of putting people out of work why doesn’t NC or even the Federal Government kick the people off of disability and welfare that doesn’t need it? Surely there is a better way of determining the need of government assistance and following through with fraud.

  • fightfor TAs

    Amen…I am a teacher assistant…my job is far from easy…My teacher tells me everyday how I make a difference in the classroom..when I was in school I remember having a teacher assistant and how she made a difference in my life..

  • Ginger

    THANK YOU!! As a fellow Teacher Assistant you are exactly right about what we do in a day. Also, in my county we transport children to and from school. A lot of us drive high school, middle school, and elementary routes plus come to school and work as a teacher assistant.
    I also invite anyone who want to see what a teacher assistant does in a day, shadow one in your local elementary school. Can you educate and take care of 25 kindergarten students for a day?

  • guest45

    this is what I am talking about also. paying a teacher and having a paid assistant just doesn’t add up to me. If we don’t take a stand somewhere and realize that public education under the present system is a losing proposition, then our kids are doomed. Private education works on 1/2 to 2/3 what the public school system runs on and turns out a much more educated and disciplined student, why is this? we all know the answer, pouring money into a bottomless pit doesn’t do anybody any good.


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