WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - New Hanover County educators met in Wilmington Tuesday night to share their concerns about public education in the state.
The Teacher Town Hall, sponsored by the NC Association of Educators and Progress North Carolina, called on teachers across the state to vote instead of strike.
They discussed a need for action in the polls to change who represents them in New Hanover County and Washington, D.C.
The need for teaching assistants (TAs) was one of the main topics of conversation Tuesday.
"We're not babysitters," said Laney High School teaching assistant Susan Dwyer. "As a TA, I am not a bathroom pass. I am there to help with the kids. Please value me in that position. That's what I'm asking for. I work hard for you. Please give me a little pat on the back once and a while."
Dwyer has worked as a TA for Laney's Exceptional Children Program — the only Laney program with TAs — for the past three years.
"My kids need TAs. They need the individual instruction," Dwyer said. "It's been proven that the classes that have TAs in them, they're 10 points higher minimum on their individual grades coming out of those classes. ... I work with behavior issue kids. I love those kids. They have passion."
Some said TAs are being pushed out or otherwise told they must also work as a school bus driver.
They also talked about the need for more state funding, better teacher pay, and more job security.
"This is something I enjoy to my core. I love doing this," said Dwyer. "It could be gone tomorrow. If my bills go up, if I have a medical issue that takes too much out of my pocket, I can't afford to work there anymore."