Michael Little, a UNC doctoral student in education policy, said the General Assembly’s decision could affect education schools at the college level.
“If you see headlines that the state you live in is cutting 8,500 teacher assistants, that may reduce the desire for people to enroll in programs like that,” Little said. “And also they said the costs per credit hour of community college is going up, and that’s where a lot of teacher’s assistants get their credentials.
“So it’s like you’re reducing jobs and making it even harder to get that credential.”
Melinda Zarate, NCATA spokeswoman, said N.C. schools have lost about 7,000 teacher assistants since 2008.
“We are valuable, we do a great deal in our schools and lower class size is wonderful, but as teacher assistants we consider this our career choice,” Zarate said. “It’s not just a little extra money to get our nails done and stuff like that.”
“It’s what we do. A lot of these teacher assistants are people who their income is counted on to provide for their family, and people seem to forget that, that what you’re talking about is basically firing 8,500 people because some of the senators are saying we’re not valuable.”
Sen. Valerie Foushee, D-Orange, said she opposes the cuts, not only because she believes it will be devastating to education — particularly at the elementary level — but she foresees problems in finding classroom space for the newly hired teachers to work.
“Where’s the school construction money coming from that will be necessary to build these extra classrooms?” Foushee said.
Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake, said he opposes the proposed budget cut due to its potential toll on education.
“These cuts are particularly shortsighted when the Senate is proposing more than $600 million in corporate tax giveaways at the same time,” Stein said in an email.
Little said he wishes smaller class sizes and having teacher assistants in the classroom could coincide.
“There is evidence, especially in grades K-3, that smaller classes have a positive impact on achievement, particularly for minorities and low socio-economic status students,” he said.