8,592 Teacher Assistants in Limbo as NCGA vacationed and argues

Under the proposed senate budget for 2015-2016, 8,592 teacher assistants in the state would lose their jobs within the next two years, which would make it the largest job lay-off in North Carolina history.  NC’s budget is supposed to be decided by Jun 30, 2015, before the next fiscal year begins on July 1.

However, the NCGA took a recess from working out the budget in early July, and may not vote until after school starts on Aug. 25. This means that teacher assistants (TAs) could start the school year with their jobs and then become unemployed once the budget is decided, if the cuts are passed as proposed.

On Jun 30, Melinda Zarate, state secretary of the North Carolina Association of Teacher Assistants interpreted the action for us at a press conference at the Legislative Building. “The message the politicians are sending is, ‘Y’all have a happy fourth of July! We’re going to the beach! Maybe we’ll fire you when we get back!’” More in article “TAs Fight Another Year to Save Their Jobs” at http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2015/07/01/
teacher-assistants-fight-another-year-to-save-their-jobs/

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Raleigh Press Conference, Photo Credit: Aim Higher NC

The Raleigh press conference was one of many stops on the “Pink Slip Tour“ around the state that had been organized by Aim Higher NC.  NC NOW president Gailya Paliga was one of many people watching the press conference from outside the room.  Many Fayetteville NOW members attended the one in Fayetteville on Jun 29, pictured below.

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The article profiles a 26 year veteran TA, Tamarah Hefner, who is required to double as school bus driver.  She and her colleagues “not only work with children to help them become proficient readers—they also administer feeding tubes, proctor end of grade tests, restrain kids properly when they are in crisis, and serve as medical first responders because there is only enough money to have a school nurse on the premises for a few hours a week.”  Another way to say this is that TAs fill in many gaps that “ have emerged thanks to persistent state disinvestment in public schools.”

The article quotes Sen. Josh Stein (D-Wake), who said “with the Senate’s proposal, the state would cut teacher assistant jobs by 70 percent from where the state was seven years ago, while also noting that the economic recession that served as the basis for these harsh cuts is over, and the state is actually dealing with a budget surplus.”  “Yet the Senate budget chooses to spend in this biennium $600 million in corporate tax giveaways at the same time they’re firing 8,600 teacher assistants,” said Sen. Stein.

Two weeks after taking a summer break from their legislative activities, and leaving the budget in limbo, nine Republican House members, including Speaker Tim Moore, and Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, are attending the annual conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council in San Diego, which runs July 22-24.  ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, is a conservative nonprofit that puts corporate leaders together with state lawmakers.  The convention includes invitation-only receptions with ALEC’s
major corporate backers.  The lawmakers will likely return to NC with more model legislation favored by corporate interests.   Read more at http://www.wral.com/lawmakers-leave-budget-behind-head-to-california-conference/14789185/ 

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