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Joint | June 30, 2015 | Press Room | Press Conference: Sen. Foushee

Full MP3 Audio File

Good morning I want to thank you all for coming I'm Melinda Skrade with the North Carolina association of teachers assistance we call it NCACA thank you all, all of you for coming to this brief press conference to underscore the pink true that the state budget proposed by the North Carolina state senate, feels really great to see all of you here this morning and to see the crowd that has turned up at similar events across the state in Shirley, Greenville, Peyettville[sp?] and now this morning here in Lory and support a feature system thank you all again we really appreciate the support of parents, teachers, students and all friends of public education. It's important to us teacher assistants to see that we're not alone because frankly we've been under attack this legislature for the last several years you know that their are 7000 fewer teacher assistants in this state than they were in 2008, and no one in this General Assembly is talking about bringing them back to our children classroom, it's as if the leaders of the state legislature hope the voters simply forgets the resources we once had in our classroom and now of course their is the plan to cut 8500 teacher assistants across North Carolina teacher assistants have been under attack and now we're left in a loss, tomorrow the first day of the next budget year and the politicians stand here they've not passed the budget the State Senate has passed the plan to cut 8500 teaching assistants, and guess where they're going next week? they're going on vacation the message the politicians down here are sending is, you have a happy 4th of July we're going to the beach, maybe we'll fire you when we get back, have a restful holiday. Of course when leaders of the Senate unveiled their budget, the press from this very podium, they mentioned nothing about TA, in fact one reporter asked specifically about cuts, and one Senator from this microphone answered, and quote, not really, many cuts in any areas, I bet a few, very few [xx] small amounts, it's a very few big cuts. Well the pink slip truth is that lawmakers here are claiming a $400 million surplus, but the Senate has passed a budget that would cut 8500 teacher assistants, which would amount to the largest layoff in state history in any industry, public or private, and now the senate has missed their budget deadline, and I'm going to add again. They are going when on vacations and then you're leaving thousands of educators in the large, wondering if they'll have a job. This educators are wondering about how to make ends meet and save their families, that is the payslip truth. How does that feel to thousands of teachers assistants across the states, or I can tell you how it feels. I've been a teacher assistant for 20 years, and I can tell you it feels like we're under attack. Madam take it from me, here is a 2014-2015 North Carolina teacher assistant of the year Michelle Bailey, she comes from   [xx] county. Good morning. Teacher assistants make a every day in our public schools. Those of us who choose to be teacher assistant and discover it is our, are serious about our professional development and growing in knowledge, skills and abilities. We understand that we mass, must continue to learn just as our teachers do. In our order to best serve our students, we teach side by side with our teachers in the classroom. we're there teaching a lesson, we or in a corner in a table teaching a reading lesson. or vice versa sometimes we're teaching a lesson and they're doing a reading lesson long gone are the days days of TAs only running copies and doing bullets in  boards, when we are in that classroom it is all about us helping teach those children believe it or not being a teacher

assistant is not an easy job it is go, go, go, all day in helping when, where, and however we are needed to make certain our schools are safe, healthy, and happy places for our children. We want them to learn and grow in their knowledge, the 21st century skills, and strength of mind and character. For a group of people who work so hard and care so much it is disheartening to say the least that year after year our profession is at the top of the list of proposed cuts. It's as if what we do is not important and does not make a difference. We know TAs make a huge difference. We know our role in your children's classroom is important to our children's future. in addition to this lack of respect for our profession, is the fact that according 8500 teacher assistance is carding income for 8500 individuals. And the're families who depend on that money.  It seems to me that we have a lose lose situation here for teacher assistance as well as for our students, our teachers, our school and our state. I want to end with the story that's due to me, this is the story that I tell. My faculty and my star every single year, so they will know the value of what we do, and it goes like this, there was a man who walks on the beach and he comes along, our child who is storm when a starfish bit up into the ocean, he walks up to the boat and he says, child why are you throwing that starfish back into the ocean, he said don't you understand that there are 1000's of starfish and miles and miles of ocean. You cannot make a difference. Well the child thought about that and the child said, he bent down, he picked up another star fish and he threw it in the ocean. He turned around and he looked at that man and he said, "I made a difference for that one" I like many TA's who drive to work every single day, think about that story and think about my drive when I go to work and I say to myself. What child am I going to make a difference for today? What children will I impact today? thank you very much. You've just heard from the North Carolina Association at teacher assistant teacher of the year and she spoke passionately. Now we're going to hear from Lisa Keyli, a special needs parent who chairs the special advisory council for the chapel hill corboral city stars. Hi, my name is Lisa Kylie and I'm a parent of two boys who just completed the second and fifth grades of elementary school. When I first heard about the Cedric budget proposal to eliminate over 8500 teaching assistants in North Carolina, I have to say that my initial reaction was shock. How could anyone who is familiar with today's elementary schools think that eliminating teaching assistant is a viable option? I've heard that some of our State legislatures proclaim that when they attended schools there were no teaching assistance and everything was just fine. Well Is it really? That's when we attended schools. Schools were very different, and they were not as focused on the success of every student today elementary classrooms are increasingly complex. As it's necessary to support our goals of educating a diverse group of students including students with disabilities English language learners. Children living in severe poverty and gifted students. We need our TAs to achieve these goals. We parents spend a lot of time at our kids force we see what teaching is attempt to on a daily basis. They are there welcoming our kids at the drop off line in the morning they are making sure our students are safe on our classrooms, our playgrounds, our

school cafeterias and on field trips. They are assisting teachers with those preparations necessary for some pretty amazing classroom lessons, but most importantly they are teaching our kids. Today's' teaching assistance are high very qualify, they have degrees and certifications and they participate in professional development for instruction. Our TA's provide vital instructions to the student's in reading, writing, and maths our public schools today are focused on educating every student. And TAs are working to provide the individualized instruction to make that happen. That means they are assisting with kids who need remediation, those who are in grade level and those were both grade level, to make sure that lessons are differentiated to meet all students needs. As a parent of special needs child I'm perhaps also more aware of one of the biggest in education since the majority of our legislatures were in school, and a lot of people remember before the mid 70s special needs children were not even allowed to attend public schools 10% of the students in my district today have any identified special needs students. Many of this student's have disabilities invisible to the average observer, but they do require additional support for the student's to be successful in the classroom. These students are included in our main stream classrooms as they should be, teaching assistant play a vital role in schools making this possible and it's the right for both my sons to attend public schools, but I don't take that right for granted. I'm extremely thankful for the work that teaching assistants put into empowering every student in their classes to be successful and that's why I feel so strongly about talking to you about this today. This is why I'm so shocked, and I'm going to say that I'm also angry, that this wonderful hard working very competent teaching assistant who are so important to education have to spend there summer worrying if they're going to have a job in the fall, all because of the senate budget proposal that claims to reduce classrooms sizes but in reality it is impossible to implement. In addition to being a mother, I also run a business, and as business woman I have appreciated that our stiff legislators have been very conscious about introducing any new legislation that might impact business without serious consideration. We parents want to see that same thought and consideration put into budget proposals and legislation that impact North Carolina's 1.5 million school children. This budget proposal to eliminate teaching assistance in favor smaller classroom sizes does not even take into account the simple logistics of where this smaller classrooms should be located, the [xx] school board has already come out and said that to reduce cost rises in early elementary school grades to 15 students in there school district would require building 45 new schools at a cost of 23 million each to house this proposed smaller classes not to mention the years that we are required to build those schools. So the senate proposal to eliminate TAs in favour of smaller classes is completely and [xx] as parents we would like to see our state legislatures leave the business of education to our local fully and lactate school boards and to a school administrators who understands the reality of today's class rooms what we parents want to see from our state government has the commitment to adequately funding our public schools to elicite the national average per pupil, its misleading to claim that the overall budget reflects growth when in fact student standings remains at 5, 298 dollars per student in the senate budget lower than the 2008- 2009 North Carolina per standing North Carolina is a growing state a number of students is growing every year our education budget needs to reflect that growth. Most importantly every student in North Carolina has the right to great public education, and our teachers and our teaching assistance must be given the funding and resources they need to fulfil the rights of our students, we need our TAs. Last but not least, here is state senator Josh Stein of Wake county, Senator Stein, thank you for your support of public education. Good morning everyone, this is one of the most important issues that we have facing the state of North Carolina, in recent years, the North Carolina general assembly under the republican leadership has dropped North Carolina to 46 in the nation, and

how much we invest on a per people basis in kindergarten through 12th grade. The senate budget does nothing to address this fact. In fact it spends 900 have spend traditionally $100 dollars less for student than we did before the recession on a real basis. It spends a fraction of what we have spent traditionally on text books and at the same time it's actually taking out of our classrooms 8600 teacher assistants. A little context will help, in 2008, 2009, North Carolina employed, 22500 TAs they won, today we've cut 15, 300, under this bill, the senate bill, it will take away another 8600 teachers assistance, this all combined would represent a 70% reduction, from where were as a state seven years ago. And now, everybody remembers 2008, 2009, 2010, we were in the depths of the worst possession, in 75 years We had to make exceedingly painful cuts. Folks we're not in the recession anymore, there is a budget surplus today, yet the senate budget, chooses to spend in this millennium $600 million in corporate tax give away, at the same time they hiring 8600 teacher assistants. On whose side is the state senate? Are they on the side of the school kids? Educators? Our future? Or are on the side of those who are very powerful? We need to re-priorities what is important for long term success of our state and that is ensuring that every child has the best chance they can possibly can to succeed. And for those kids to have that chance, they need to have teacher assistance in the classroom to help those teachers, and here is a laundry list of the many many different activities that TA just imagine a class of 15. 17 kindergarten with one adult in that classroom. You have kid with a behavioral issue, and another kid who desperately needs to go to the bathroom but they can't, teacher knows they can't let that kid just go, something is going to happen. What is that teacher to do, and meanwhile you have 15 other kids who just want to learn this is a ridiculous approach, just educating our children and it's imperative that we reject it, and invest in what really matters which are our kids, thank you. OK, I'm going to take you can mark them being on vacation you think they are on vacation now seriously that vacation thing I said that's true, but take your assistants. It's very hard for us to enjoy the summer because we're worried about our vocation, how are we going to afford it? when you get back. Anyway I want to thank you all for coming, I want us to give special thanks, a special, special thanks to all the parents, teachers and concerned citizens that come out here today, we'll be happy to answer any questions you might have at this point thank you. Maybe I should put this to a teaching assistant. But you talked about being concerned about your summer, and worrying because you don't know what's on the horizon. Hypothetically should this budget proposal to work on it, go into late August, September and that's coming right into when school start you talk about the impact that, that would have on you. Well this has happened before and in my particular county what happened was, they let 63 teachers assistants go, and then once the budget at first they brought some of those teachers system, but they started them over, with the years. I'm been hearing that some county up in the primer tired has let go off other second grade assistance already just based on the proposal. So, the school systems have to go ahead and make their plans, they can't wait till the beginning of school, to assign teachers assistant, and teachers, and get everybody in their classrooms, they have to know where at a time. You talk about a business, you  won't do a business that way for you just, oh, that's what we're going to do then. You have to do something now and quite honestly and you

might want to first I think this turned perfectly, the senate budget coming out, knowing we were getting out of school, Let's be honest, that's how I failed. I knew we were getting out of school, I knew it would be harder to communicate among ourselves, that's how I feel. Any other questions? Just to clarify on your comment that you just made when TAs were rehired and years passed, and we start the years the over in terms of their retirement, that changed suddenly? Where are your art well employees.   Yes, it's just very nerve wrecking, imagine one of you that, going home and not knowing whether you are going to have a job in a couple of months, any of this happens in business too but for teachers assistant this happens every single year, you can not imagine how disheartening it is not only because we love what we do but because this is our income this is what we depend on to live I am a single person, I need my money, I should be able to pay my house payments. And it's disheartening every single year, we're in the same same position every single year that we are fighting for jobs, there is no other profession that I know of that has them fighting every single year for there job we are here every single year fighting for our jobs and she said it is very disheartening to know that we are that next time we are not in the same position again that we are not fighting again for our jobs but it seems tat every single year we are in the same position fighting for our jobs fighting for who we love Fighting for our children Yes, exactly Stay within your goal 48 Scotland County, Hope County, Robinson County and Richmond County. I do represent a large concentration of teaching assistants and I know how important those jobs are to pip the eye our communities, years ago I had a bill that I found ti would teach us transition form if you wanted to be a teacher the transition in the classroom also audience importance of TAs and our children deserve better first of us about our children and I do support this TA that know they have the loop hold of the scare when it come to pay and you think [xx] and all the things that they do on board you that would be kidding that's a lot of staff that they do I will not be on vacation this week I will be here at the general assembly so I will be here I am not going my folks sent me up here to stay here to make sure everything is going well, so I look forward to continue working with the leadership of Senator Stein on the House. The House Democrats have every we are very concerned about where we're going and you're right, to get to this time of the year when superintendents are making plans for next year and you got the [xx]. Do I really understand it? I'm in the position but I know it's got to be difficult and tough, you have bills to pay, you have children in college, you have things that you need to do, so I'm here as a State Legislature to let you know that I support you 110, we'll fight hard and we're going to continue to fight and being knocked down is not a knock out, so we'll get to you. Thank you all for coming. Thank you.