This is Laurin Easthom.

While some members of the NC General Assembly have passed around lumps of coal, surreptitiously placed Christmas wreaths in their legislative chamber, and walked out of negotiations holding their breath, a multitude of teacher’s assistants wonder if they have jobs in one month. Medicaid services, adequate access to health care for those with low income, and the way those services are provided are under scrutiny if not flat-out on the chopping block. Let’s get over this partisan bickering and get on to the business of serving the people of this great state!

It continues to amaze me how uninformed many of our legislators are about so many extremely important things they are deciding upon. Teacher’s assistants perform an integral function to our schools’ classrooms, which are busting at the seams with the maximum amount of children allowed per class. Teacher’s assistants teach along with the main teacher and make the overcrowded classroom situation work for students who should have closer teacher attention.

With little money coming from the state legislature for schools in general, adding new schools to accommodate growth has become a rarity. Maxed-out classrooms in schools with physical disrepair are common, and not the educational environment and image we would like to project in North Carolina.

Why should we even question the worth of teacher’s assistants who have proven to be such an integral part of our coveted educational system?

Speaking of education, the General Assembly NEEDS some education on Medicaid and the health effects of not having adequate access to health care. If some hospitals closing now isn’t scary enough, then the statistics alone should scare anyone of how many people end up in the emergency room with life threatening conditions that could have been prevented with good access to care. Having worked within the healthcare system for years I can tell you first hand that putting off some minor treatment needs can lead to emergencies and even deaths.

Now is the time to act and place this state’s very priorities FIRST…health, education, and our general welfare. Stop with the lumps of coal and other stupid antics and get on with it.