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Joint | July 21, 2015 | Press Room | Press Conference: Rep. Graham

Full MP3 Audio File

Let me say good morning, everyone I'm state representative Charles Graham, I'm serving house district 47 in Robinson county. North Carolina we're here to talk about the budget process and some of the concerns we have relative to the budget and I have a prepared statement and I would review that and then at some point and after I finish we'll have further members and guests come up and make some comments. I want to start out by saying that the budget writers in both houses were fortunate when we started this budget process to have a surplus of $400 million to work with which is significant when we consider the previous years in which revenue deficits were in millions. How to appropriate the surplus has created a major deficit between the by-Patterson house budget and a Patterson senate budget. At the present time we have hundreds of individuals who are depending on this budget for their livelihood and that is our teacher assistants and I have many of those folks behind me. The Senate adopted a partisan budget in which compromise will be difficult. Approximately 70% of North Carolina's counties will be hard pressed to fund drivers' education programs in addition to fully funding current teachers' assistant positions. The financial cost associated with drivers' education should not be passed on to the parents who are working paycheck to paycheck to fund their child's drivers' education program and it's estimated it will cost those parents $3 or $400 to have their child have that opportunity. Rural school districts in county governments may once again become victims to a legislature dominated by urban districts. These valuable programs must be sustained in the final budget for numerous economic reasons. I was 100% in favor and support of the appropriation that left the house that appropriation for public education including teacher assistance positions, pay raises for teachers and state employees and the important appropriations for drugs education. In addition, there were floor amendments adopted on the house budget that were approved and the house final budget and received by partisan support I have supported and encouraged our house leadership to stand firm on the strong economic budget that passed with [xx] by Harrison in the house with the level of support not seen in this house in many years. It is my hope that Republican leadership in both chambers will take advantage of the surplus programs that will promote quality of life for all North Carolina citizens and strengthen incentives to recruite new business and industry to the state the house budget promoted by pro-economic opportunity by specifically maintaining 10 million and the One N. C Small Business Fund, boosting spending by 21.5 for rural economic development grants and supporting the support center that supports small businesses lending to low and moderate income communities. This incentives will have a positive impact and it has economic opportunities for rural counties which have lagged far behind the urban counties during this economic recovery a strong education propitiation sent to the senate by the house should be sustained including proposed registry of all teachers ensuring that North Carolina maintains qualified teachers in our classrooms, while boosting textbooks and digital resources by funding 91.8 million two years for our students. During the last five years, North carolina public schools have lost numerous lots of many students and valuable teachers to other states, due to a lack lack of support from the General assembly leadership, in addition to seeing low morale within the teaching profession. Here is an opportunity to restore confidence and trust in our teachers, which will demonstrate they are valued and appreciated by this General assembly. Our children can ill-afford to have teachers choosing to continue their carriers and other studies leaving school districts in most cases with a far less qualified teacher, or in most cases, in my little county, Robertson County, with a substitute teacher, especially in poor rural counties across the state. To fail to fund full the current level of teacher assistants and promote a well rounded learning environment is critical during early learning years which will be a serious blow to ensuring that all students are reading proficient with the sound foundation going into the third grade and beyond. Additionally enough fully funding the current level teacher assistants will inflict serious negative outcomes on the learning processes of thousands of underprivileged children, and will have unintended consequences of putting these young learners further at risk.

During the K-2 years children enter into a higher structured learning environment bringing a variety of learning styles and adapt the needs which will demand an enormous amount of time from a teacher. During these critical developmental years learning instructions needs to be maximized, not minimized by excluding a qualified teacher trained in an early childhood education. To maximize learning and time on task the attention of a teacher persisted and the classroom fosters sustain academic development. Rules school districts, cannot fully fund these positions without more local funds. Think about it, our counties have just passed budgets. To ask counties to come back and fund those positions is not what we need to be doing in this legislature. Those budgets are final and it's not in the best interest on our local communities for our role counties to have to borrow this expense. At this time I would like to open the floor, we have several members, senators, we have house members that would like to make some comments and this time I will open the floor to these individual who would like to do that. May I? Yes come I'm Senator Jane Smith representing district 13 which is Robinson and Colombus counties I'd like to just echo everything that Representative Graham said our educational system has been severely damaged really in the last several years and we can't continue to allow that to happen. All the things he mentioned have been really devastating in the education and the house budget did put in some across board racers for teachers kept in the teacher assistance kept in drivers in my two counties there's a lot of poverty and a lot of the people cannot afford to send their children to pre pay programs and the state pre pay is not under the nuff[sp?] there's a huge waiting list. So, these children arrive in class behind already when they get to kindergarten if it were not for teacher assistants that could work with these students individually while the teacher is teaching the rest of the class to get them up to speed these children would be behind from now on, teacher assistants serve a tremendous job they do a whole lot of things in the classroom and outside the classroom a lot of people are not aware that most of the bus drivers are teacher assistants and that would be a huge void if the teacher weren't there also the drivers and[sp?] program is very important again as Representative Gram said parents cannot afford three four five hundred dollars to pay for driver's add[sp?] the senate because it's required by law amount to have it, the Senate has actually in the budget now taken out that requirement, but that does mean we have less faith in North Carolina roads and also not a good solution either so I applaud representative Graham for what he has said and certainly echo that myself. Thank you. Good morning and thank you so much for coming to support us today and hear what the challenges are for Eastern North Carolina and our western most counties that are ruled, I'm Senator Erika Smith Ingram, I represent eight counties in northeastern North Carolina Bertie, Chowan, Edgecombe, Hertford, Martin, North Hampton, Tyrell and Washington Counties. My eight counties are ruled and we face significant challenges with funding our school system. I'm an educator, I still teach high school mathematics and science. I see everyday the challenges that my colleagues and I face with stretching out budgets, limited resources and now the while having students achieve. I'm championing the course for us to maintain funding for driver's education and this is why. A recent triple A study shows that formal drivers education programs reduce fatal collision provision by 47% for 16 year old's and 40% for 17 year old drivers. Drivers education provides life saving instructions for nervous drivers, and I even would venture contributes significantly to the safety of the nine million North Carolinian's who travel our highway's and our state roads everyday. Texas has apparent taught driver's education program, and as my colleague senator James Smith explained, the senate provided a provision that drivers education will not be required and that it could be parent taught. I have children and many of

you who have children we recognize we have our children's best interest in our heart yet and still we and our various careers we don't have the expertise to teach defensive driving, safe driving for our student's and our children, the Texas parent taught driver's education program has been studied and it shows less than satisfactory results in comparison to a more formalized program. Funding driver's education so important and what I propose is that we reserve the corporate tax credit, for one year so that we can find the funding for something so important to our children. There are too many unanswered questions the second portion of that provision provided for drivers education to be handled by our Community Colleges across the state. There are too many unanswered questions with this proporsal. How does a 15 or 16 year old get to the local Community College to take driver's education? Will it be offered in the evening, or during the regular school day? How does a non driving student get to the Community College to take the course, when parents are working? Where do the students who live in a county that don't have a Community College where does that student go? To take Drivers Ed and how is that provided? These questions are the basis for my reservations with having this driver's education funded in the way that the senate proposes, the House did an outstanding job honoring that commitment and we owe it to our hardworking families and our children the future of North Carolina to provide teachers assistants as well as the resources needed for drivers education. Good morning my name is Bobby Richardson, I represent district seven which includes a portion of Franklin and Nash County. There's not a lot left to be said after listening to the previous speakers but I do want to stand here and support of teaching assistants and drivers education in our public school system. I believe the purpose of us here at the general assembly is to provide the best resources regarding education that we can, and one of those resources are our teacher assistants and one of those program is drivers education. All of the statistics and the reasons for why these programs should be provided have been stated but as a 35 year career teacher for special education supervisor. I had the honor of hiring and evaluating teacher assistant and I can assure you that they were a vital part of that team teachers really benefited from their services. They were able to sit and monitor students behavior, they were able to sit in small groups and listening to the reading. They assisted in language development and they also assisted in developing different aspects of the lesson plan. Many of our teachers assistants are all of our teachers assistants now must have a two year degree so they have trained effectively. We do need that assistance in the classroom when you have 20 or 30 students, and there're so many moving parts. You need more than two eyes in that classroom we also need drivers training as has been stated. If we watch television we watch the news, it is probably on the weekly or bi weekly basis that we hear that some young student did not make his or her graduation exercise because they got killed in a car accident. We need to continue to improve the training of our young people before they get on the highway because we want them to live and be productive and go on and contribute to this society. So as an educator I urge our conferees to take seriously their responsibilities in coming up with a budget that will support our educational system, will keep our teacher assistants in place and also will provide funds for drivers training. Thank you. We appreciate you being here. I echo what you've heard from my colleagues. I'm Sen. Joyce Waddell and I represent district 40, Charlotte. Even though we've come a long way, we've along way to come. I want share with you my experience with a teacher assistant and how vital important that person is in the classroom. Until you've come to school and first preschool just a basic need to taking care of that person has o be taught to many of them a teachers stem needs to be available to do that. To help with small group and

reading and basic instruction a teacher system needs to be available to help with that. So go on field trips to help with parent conferences a teacher assistant needs to be available for that I couldn't operate my classroom without a teachers system. I was a master teacher because I had assistant of an assistant another set of hands to help with those students on a daily basis and as we look at what the budget is planning to do to fund 8500 jobs we cannot afford to let this happen. So I'll say to you our citizens write, call, email, let your voices be heard. We must keep our assistants in our classrooms, and concerning drivers education. I've watched day after day students learning to drive, and being so happy with that permit, with that their certificate that they get. We cannot afford to let our community colleges take this responsibility for our students, we must keep it in our schools. It has been successful, and when something is so successfully as this program is in the schools we cannot eliminate it. Appeal to your legislators, appeal to your senators, let them know your voice, and let your voice be heard. thank you   Thank you and this time we have some special guests who are teachers assistant who are folks in field working, and I would like at this time give them an opportunity to speak on their behalf, Mr. [xx] thank you. Good morning, thank you for allowing us  to be here, thank you, Representative Graham. I am Racey [xx] for Robinson County and I am a teacher assistant. I echo what this senators and legislature has said but I see first hand everyday what goes no in the classroom we are one of the first that arrived at school, we have duties we have bus duties. We're the first person that your children sees when they arrive on campus where they at the bus stop we're there at the stops and we lead them into the classroom when we came to breakfast and lunch and not only all of this, but we have teacher assistants in rural areas. They get up and they are at a bus at 6 O'clock in the morning, and they drive that bus, they leave a classroom at 3 or 3.15 in the afternoon. They go back to that bus, and they deliver those children at home. And I hear this a lot of time, what does a teacher assistant do? We assist students so that the teacher can continue the group lesson, we take these one-on-ones. In the second grade if you have, as someone mentioned, a class that's got 22 in it and you got only one teacher in there, in that second grade you could have three to four different reading levels. Every child, as someone has already stated, that comes to our classrooms they cannot read on grade level. So someone has to help them, someone has to encourage them to be able to read, in math it's the same way. I mean we have students that don't know their multiplication tables and we have to work with them to teach them how to succeed in life and under the supervision on the teacher we work in that small group. We actually teach, we are certified enough that we can teach on these levels and we saw a lot of committees and [xx] and search throughout the neighborhood we monitor the student. There is media[sp?] that teachers have and this is one question and I hear this and I say when in the budget is why don't we just reduce classroom sizes but you know on paper that sounds good but here is the problem with that, you've got in a lot of rural areas especially Robinson County, each one of our schools we have mobile units. That is units that are seating away from the main structure if you have a teacher in a classroom with 17, 18 students and a disruption happens or something happens he or she going to be able to take all those kids to the main campus to see what they need to do, but you know we have kids that comes in, they come in with attitudes.

Folks I'm going to tell you now education, and this is what I love to say and say to the senators, I would love for them to come and just see what actually takes place on a classroom and how we support. It's one thing to be on the outside looking in but classrooms differ. Classroom is much different than when I went to school, or when a lot of our older people went to school. These children today they come from diverse families, if they had a problem at home guess what? It comes to school. They bring it on that school bus, they bring it in that classroom, and they can be a disruption right there. Another pair of eyes, another pair of hands can make a difference to that child. From experience we have learned if a child falls behind in early grades then they're susceptible Trait is going to be more likely not to succeed when they get to high school. They're going to be so far behind, that they're looking for age 16 so they can get out and get away from it and then we've got another. And another thing this bill also talks about is, right now in the State of North Carolina we've 7, 000 few teachers assistants, than we had before the recession. This talking about slashing 8, 592 positions would be one of the largest lay off in the State of North Caroline since the recession. No change in the school ranking per student education. Another thing that our research has found is here in North Carolina, we're spending more money per capita to incarcerate our prisoners than we're to educate our students in public schools. Now there is something wrong with that picture, we look at our prison population, and look at where, and most of those that are incarcerated, most of them are uneducated, they've got caught up in something, and it lingered right on through, and in the next thing you know then we're having to look after them. Whatever the amount or case maybe my question is, is it more important to try to educate, try to keep someone? I took a field trip, let me just share this. We took a field trip at the school I'm at, we trailed the people, the young people, to the local jails. And we just let them go around and just look into doors and see what was taking place, and we analyzed that they only get 20 minutes a week out on the outside. If we could just make one different, one different, at the end of the day if I have helped one child to read, if I have helped one child to learn his multiplication table, I feel like that I have succeeded at something, and we need this we put the value there and there is a lot of other things that, and I can echo what has been said here today but thank you, and as the lady just said, please contact your senators. Let them know the value that teacher assistant has in the classroom and also what drives education. Thank you. Good morning. My name is William Johnston, and I'm the State President of the North Carolina Association of Teacher Assistants. I'm a 13-year teacher assistant, and let me say that I'm sure many of the educators that are representatives here in this room today will tell you that it is a training ground with teacher assistants for teachers. Some of the best teachers that are teaching in our State right now, educator superintendents and fellow teachers will tell you that they were once teacher assistants. They have the time to get to know if this is something that they really want to do, if this is a passion that they have. As one of our Senators said, in North Carolina now we have to have a two degree, but I stand here today to tell you that I just completed all my coursework for a Masters degree. So we have qualified teacher assistants all across the State. As times have changed, so have we had to change and we've had to adapt and we've had to go out and get professional development and more training. It's not that we don't want to be there for our students, we want to do everything that we can for them, and that is our main concern. Yes our jobs are our concern, but we're here for our students only today because our students are our future, and by investing in teacher assistants, by investing in education we are investing in our future so that 20 and 30 years down the road when these are our CEOs of our corporations, when these are our representatives standing here representing us then, that we will reap the benefits of the investment that we put for 20 and 30 years ahead of that time. I can stand here today and

tell you many stories that I've had over my 13 years but I will say this to you, as a teacher assistant it is an honor and a privilege to work with a child and see that light bulb come on for the first time. Every day we make a difference in the life of children, and I'll share one story from this year with you before I close. We had an ESL student English As A Second Language student, this child came into kindergarten pulling on his ears everyday. Did not want to be at school, did not want to do anything, would not even come in the classroom to pick up a pencil, but this year when he walked in my classroom and I had the privilege of being his teacher assistant I made up in my mind right then This child will not leave this room this year the way he came in here. I made it my mission to work everyday to work with that child as much time as I had in my it wasn't much because I serve two teachers, not only do I server two teachers but I was my school webmaster. I administered medications. Anything that I needed to do when that I was called I was pulled out, but when that child got to mi-year he was coming in Good morning Mr. Johnston? He was picking up his pencil on his own and writing his morning message and bringing it to me prior that he was able to do that, just after January when we had fire drills and we had tornado drills he stopped pulling his ears because he hadn't adopted to this situation. Was he on great level by the end of the year? No! But I can tell you that he made over a year's worth of progress because one person took the time to believe in him, and teach the assistants all across the state believe in children so I implore and I ask our senators and representatives to think about what you're doing by cutting 8, 592 teacher assistants, because if we reach just one, that's 8, 592 children in North Carolina, next year that will fall to the gap. Thank you. I'm Teresa Soya, I'm a 22 years teacher assistant from Coletta county. I have worked in a small classroom of 15 kids, I've also worked helping children with their reading. Small groups and one on one for these last 22 years, and I have made a difference whether be in a small classroom or one on one. I've received training ride along with the teachers to be able to able to help the students along beside them. We do make a difference, please I appreciate the support of the representatives and senators that are here so much, because our county we have maybe 50 teachers assistant right now n our whole county after the cut a few years ago, and our superintendent has worked hard to support and keep us. But please keep us in our classroom because we do make a difference, it would be a shame I've seen the light go on in the children's faces, I've made that difference in that one child, they've come back and they've shared with me, they'll come back, do I know I was in a store recently in town and they said I know you, and they said do have a child, I said but I work at the elementary school and that light went on and they remembered me from their elementary years. They are an adults getting ready to be in medical assistant, but so I made the difference in the life of that child, thank you. Thank you and at this time if you've any question we'll glad to entertain any questions you may have. No questions, thank you.