Originally created 08/31/99

Raps treatment of teaching assistants

I am a teaching assistant at a A. Brian Merry Elementary School. I'm starting my tenth year in the Richmond County system. I love my job, my school and the children. I work very hard with little pay involved but that has never made me want to quit. I work with a great teacher, Linda Edmonds, who values every little thing I do. ...

Now, if I could just get the Board of Education to come into the classroom and see what I and many other teaching assistants do, maybe they would say "thank you" instead of telling us to go home, we don't need you!

When I returned to work on Aug. 16, I was told at 8:45 a.m. we were going to be phased out starting with third grade. This action was going to be based on seniority. We could either take an open spot with special education or kindergarten, or quit. There were 36 spots to fill by volunteering. If not enough volunteers were placed, then we would be placed in a vacant spot according to years in the system. Next year second grade will be phased out first, and then first grade after that.

The second important thing we were told was that there would not be any more substitutes put in the elementary schools. Teaching assistants will be rotated into the sub position. If a teacher misses more than three days in row, then a substitute will be called.

We were required to attend a substitute workshop. We will not be paid and will not know until we enter school that morning if we will be in our regular room or sub-stituting for someone else.

Substituting does not bother me, but what about the teaching assistants who have been in a kindergarten class for 20 years? This is going to be hard on a lot of people, mainly the students who I work with and the teachers whose plans include my presence. In a time when more special ed students are being placed in regular rooms for 2-3 hours a day with no help, our students deserve better!

I hope the parents realize how much not having teaching assistants in each classroom affects the success of our children.

Budgets should be made after the salaries of teachers, teaching assistants and those who work in the schools are deducted. Hopefully by the time everyone wakes up and notices this, it won't be too late!

M. Stetler, Augusta


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