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Gov. McCrory Says Schools Should Have More Flexibility Over Teacher Assistants

teacher in a blur with classroom
Bart Everson
Flickr/Creative Commons

School leaders, not the state, should decide if they want to hire teachers or teacher assistants, according to Governor Pat McCrory.

In their budget proposal, state senators are calling for schools to cut back on the equivalent of about 8,500 teacher assistants and use the extra money to hire about 2,000 teachers and reduce classroom sizes. House lawmakers would keep funding intact.

On Thursday, McCrory chimed in on the debate, arguing that decisions over staffing should come from principals and superintendents who understand the needs of their students.   

“Let the schools decide - do you want student [teacher] assistants? Do you want more teachers, or do you want a combination of both?” he said at an education conference Thursday hosted by the N.C. Chamber.

He argued state funding for teacher assistants should stay at current levels, while taking into consideration any increases in student enrollment.

“I don't believe in across-the-board decisions for every school system coming out of Raleigh, nor do I believe it should out of Washington,” he said.

While Senate and House lawmakers try to strike a deal, their delays have created confusion and uncertainty for school leaders.

“Do we hire teacher assistants, or do we terminate teacher assistants?  How much money will we have to hire new teachers? What do we do about materials and resources? How do we plan for the year,” said State Superintendent June Atkinson.

The legislature voted Wednesday to extend their budget deadline until the end of the month. Their original deadline was July 1, the beginning of the fiscal year.

Reema Khrais joined WUNC in 2013 to cover education in pre-kindergarten through high school. Previously, she won the prestigious Joan B. Kroc Fellowship. For the fellowship, she spent a year at NPR where she reported nationally, produced on Weekends on All Things Considered and edited on the digital desk. She also spent some time at New York Public Radio as an education reporter, covering the overhaul of vocational schools, the contentious closures of city schools and age-old high school rivalries.
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