Here’s some history on teacher assistants – and a hint about why Senate Republicans want to get rid of them: They’re Jim Hunt’s creation.
In his first race for Governor in 1976, Hunt proposed what he called the Primary Reading Program. As Lieutenant Governor and ex-officio member of the State Board of Education, he had become concerned – as Senator Berger says he is today – that too many third-grade students couldn’t read.
So the essence of the Primary Reading Program was to put what Hunt then called “reading aides” into every K-3 classroom. Their job would be to focus on teaching reading.
Hunt, as was his wont, talked in great detail about the concept in the campaign. We ran TV ads about it. It became a centerpiece of his legislative program in 1977. It passed, and soon every K-3 classroom had an aide. They later were called “teacher assistants.”
The plan worked. Into the ‘80s and through the ‘90s – thanks also to bipartisan support for the reading program and other initiatives, including Governor Jim Martin – national tests showed North Carolina students improving faster than those in other states. (Exactly the kind of performance comparisons we won’t have once Common Core is dumped, by the way.)
Apparently, the driving goal in the Senate is to rid North Carolina of any whiff of anything Democrats did in education. And damn the consequences.