FAYETTEVILLE -- Three dozen educators came to the Fayetteville Market House on Monday afternoon to protest a budget plan by the North Carolina State Senate that would eliminate 8,500 teacher assistant positions.

The rally was one of several being held throughout the state in opposition to the proposal.

A larger event is scheduled for Tuesday morning at the General Assembly.

Legislators say the budget plan is a trade off. They believe the savings generated by the elimination of the teacher assistant jobs would allow them to spend additional money to reduce class sizes.

But the ralliers reject that and say the elimination of the positions would be detrimental to school systems throughout the state.

The rallies are being sponsored by Progress North Carolina.

On Monday afternoon, the N.C. Republican Party responded to the rallies with a statement. It described the events as "organized publicity stunts."

The statement also called on Progress North Carolina to release a list of its donors.