New Learning Portal Is Now Live

The Illinois Education Association strives to offer you free, high-quality online professional development that fits your needs and is available on-demand to fit your changing schedule. We’re excited to announce our updated experience is now live! Check out this video tutorial to get started on the updated experience right away!
Are you actively using the IEA Online Learning Portal now? Don’t worry! You’ll continue to have access to the legacy platform until June 2. To help ease the transition, over the next few weeks you can expect to receive an email with your legacy course completion certificates for all courses completed as of April 30. If you complete a course after April 30 on the legacy platform, please download and save the course completion certificates as you complete them.

We’re so excited to offer you this updated platform as a benefit of your membership. Thank you so much for all you’re doing for our students. We’re so glad you’re an IEA member.

We Rise Together – NEA Week of Action


The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all our lives in so many ways. All our lives will change in ways we don’t even know yet. But we cannot and will not just sit and wring our hands. We must plan, prepare, and mobilize to advocate for what we know students and educators need. IEA members are coming together with families, community leaders and other activists to demand that Congress act to ensure that students and communities Rise Together.


Educators and parents join to tell Congress to support students now

WASHINGTON – May 14, 2020 –

Leaders from two of the largest and most influential education organizations, the National Education Association and the National PTA, along with teachers and education support professionals who continue to serve students during the coronavirus pandemic, joined together in a national media call. They addressed the pressing issues facing students, families and educators, including what’s needed from Congress as elected officials discuss transitioning to in-person learning for the 2020-21 academic year.

Congress to support students now

NEA releases poll data and launches national campaign, including million-dollar ad buy

WASHINGTON – May 14, 2020 –

Leaders from two of the largest and most influential education organizations, the National Education Association and the National PTA, along with teachers and education support professionals who continue to serve students during the coronavirus pandemic, joined together in a national media call. They addressed the pressing issues facing students, families and educators, including what’s needed from Congress as elected officials discuss transitioning to in-person learning for the 2020-21 academic year.

“The partnership between parents and educators is so important, especially in this time of crisis. Educators’ number-one concern is the safety, well-being and success of our students,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the inequities facing our most vulnerable students and with the economic downturn now threatening the future of public schools, parents and educators are standing together because we cannot wait. Our nation’s students cannot pay the price in this crisis.”

As Americans brace for what could be the worst economic downturn in U.S. history, educators and parents are demanding that Congress act quickly to support students and provide the federal funding they need to succeed. Estimates of state revenue shortfalls range from $500 billion from the National Governors Association and Economic Policy Institute to $650 billion over 3 years, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. School finance experts also predict that hundreds of thousands of education jobs could be lost — impacting the education of millions of students — absent federal intervention.

This week, House Democrats introduced a new coronavirus relief bill, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act or “HEROES Act,” to provide more resources for students and educators through vital funding for public schools and communities combatting the coronavirus crisis. While this legislation isn’t perfect, it includes $100 billion specifically for K-12 and higher education along with $915 billion in state and local aid to address budget gaps that could be used to help public schools and college campuses.

NEA’s intensive advocacy campaign kicks off with a tele-townhall featuring Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), and award-winning actor Bradley Whitford, as well as thousands of education activists, to discuss what is at stake for students and communities. Over the course of the coming weeks, NEA will be organizing virtual #RedForEd rallies across the country and engaging educators and parents in tens of thousands of phone calls and emails to Congress, telling lawmakers to put politics aside and provide emergency funding for students now.

More resources are available at nea.org/coronavirus.

Follow on twitter at @NEAmedia, @Lily_NEA and @NationalPTA

Keep up with the conversation on social media at #ProtectAllWorkers and #RedForEd



The coronavirus may have closed school buildings and campuses, but it didn’t stop educators from working to ensure their students learn, cope, and even get fed.

It has revealed how critical public schools and educators are to our students, communities and country.

We need you to RISE with us and TAKE ACTION

The coronavirus may have closed school buildings, but it has also revealed the determination and resolve of educators to help their students. The coronavirus has also exposed a great divide. Some students, especially those who are black, brown, and poor, have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, and unless we act, will face steeper obstacles in the future because of it.

The nation’s recovery from COVID-19 will run through our public schools, so we need to make sure we prioritize educators and students in coronavirus relief legislation.

ACTION 1: Write Congress

With our country and public schools facing serious financial challenges due to the COVID-19 crisis, students need you to speak up now! Congress MUST prioritize dedicated funding to support public school students, educators, and communities in the next coronavirus relief package, not just billionaires and corporations. TAKE ACTION 

Action 2: Recruit Your Friends

The more people who join our efforts, the louder our voices will be.

SHARE ON Twitter SHARE ON Facebook

Action 3: Build Collective Action

BECOME AN NEA COMMUNITY ALLY Together, we will advocate for legislation to help students, educators, and public schools navigate the fallout from COVID-19. But we need your support. Become a community ally for $25 and help fund our efforts. JOIN NEA

Action 4: Pledge Your Support

The coronavirus may have closed school buildings and campuses, but it didn’t stop educators from working to ensure their students learn, cope, and even get fed. TAKE ACTION 


NEA Digital Learning Series: Two Webinars Listed Below

As you know, digital learning has become our new norm.  As partners in this work, we are still committed to providing useful resources that will assist you and your team with planning key organizing tactics to help increase membership virtually.

NEA is  launching the Digital Learning Series with the two webinars listed below. 

May 12: In this webinar, learn to deploy a best-practice membership form to support organizing across different platforms. Together with C4O staff, OGC counsel Jeff Burritt and Maryann Parker will establish the urgency of the moment in terms of both organizing goals and litigation threats. We will review top priorities for membership applications, including the new NEA model form, and cover general legal principles for online membership and payment authorization systems. The webinar also will feature organizers and lawyers from state associations that have created systems for recruiting members virtually. 

May 19: Now more than ever, strong public sector unions depend on their members. It is essential to meet and organize prospective members as early as possible. Accessing and maintaining up-to-date information on all employees represented by the Local Association is an essential building block to a strong and effective organization. This session will walk participants through the List Acquisition Toolkit and provide best practices that Affiliates are using in the field.  

 It’s not too late. Registration for the Year-Round Organizing Digital Learning Series is still open to all local leaders,  state staff, and those responsible for organizing at the state and local level.

Please click the link below to register.

Click Here to Register

 Below is the list of the entire series and dates:

  • May 12:             Resilience: We can Organize and Thrive in a Virtual

Environment (Hosted by the NEA Office of General Counsel)

  • May 19:             Strengthening your List Acquisition & Cleaning your Data
  • May 26:             Maximizing Online and Digital Recruitment Strategies
  • June 2:               Ensuring Success for Member Organizers in a Virtual Environment
  • June 9:               Digital 1:1 Conversations:  Best Practices, Choosing and Using the Best


  • June 16:             Virtual New Employee Orientations
  • June 23:             Building Mapping for Power
  • June 30:             Virtual Issue Organizing 

Click Here to Register

  1. Volunteer to share your ideas and plans: If your affiliate has begun to think through these issues and you are willing to share examples on a national webinar related to the topics above, please email us at Glueteam@nea.org. We need case studies, materials, and resources to share with our colleagues across the nation.
  2. Access our Resources:  Go to www.nea.org/newedresources and request access. You will need these materials during the webinar.
  3. Engage and Prepare Your Locals: Begin having conversations with your UniServ Directors, Local Associations,  and school districts to plan for a virtual Back to School season or at least one with social distancing limits in place. It will be essential to ensure your union’s access to any platform that school systems utilize to communicate and onboard new and veteran employees. In addition, securing your employee bargaining lists with personal email addresses and cell phone numbers will be imperative to following up with each member and potential member.

These are unprecedented times, but we believe with a little bit of planning and ingenuity, our union can thrive in this new environment. We’ve got a new reality – let’s leverage it to win for our members, our students, and our communities.

Click Here to Register


Remote learning prep clock hours, new online learning portal experience

JUST ANNOUNCED! IEA is providing professional development clock hours to members for completion of PD activities in preparation for remote learning.

Video message from IEA President Kathi Griffin

Remote Learning PD Clock Hour Request Form
Hello Friend,

The Illinois Education Association strives to offer you free, high-quality online professional development that fits your needs and is available on-demand to fit your changing schedule.
To help you gather the ISBE clock hours you need to renew your license, we’re excited to announce that on Monday, May 18, we will launch our new platform! The new platform has one-click sorting to quickly find course-by-course categories or course tags.
Are you actively using the IEA Online Learning Portal now? Don’t worry, you’ll continue to have access to the legacy platform until June 2. To help ease the transition, during the week of May 15 you can expect to receive an email with your course completion certificates for all courses completed as of April 30. If you complete a course after April 30, please download and save the course completion certificates as you complete them.

We’re so looking forward to offering you this updated platform as a benefit of your membership. Thank you so much for all you’re doing for our students. We’re so glad you’re an IEA member.

Webinar Opportunity

Cleaning Schools to Control for Viruses and Bacteria: Maintaining Healthy Indoor Learning Environments

Registration is Open!

Date: Thursday, May 7, 2020
Time: 3:00 – 4:30 PM EDT


Please note, audio will not be available through the webinar portal. You must call in by phone to access the audio. Details are provided after registration. 

Cleaning for health, using effective and efficient products, policies and practices, has always been the first line of defense for schools when it comes to controlling the spread of infectious disease and providing healthy, safe and productive indoor learning environments. This webinar is designed to help school district facilities and custodial staff put action plans in place to meet modern day environmental health challenges, while maintaining good indoor environmental quality, ensuring staff safety and protecting occupant health. 

During this webinar, our expert speakers will: 

·         Explain some of the most effective methods and strategies for cleaning schools to control for viruses and bacteria, while preserving a healthy indoor learning environment.

·         Introduce preliminary findings from new research on the link between cleaning practices and occupant health in schools.

·         Explore proven strategies, approaches, and resources used by thousands of schools across the country to implement effective healthy cleaning practices as part of a comprehensive IAQ management plan.


ESPs Making A Difference Today and Everyday!

Thank you for all you do!! ESPs from all across the country have been doing everything they can to support our students and families. Thank you!! You have always been essential to the success of our students. ESPs are rising up all across the country not only supporting students in the virtual classrooms but supporting whole communities through this trying time.

As you scroll through these pictures posted from the National Education Association, you will see some of our very own ESP heroes from Illinois. Please add pictures of you and your colleagues in the comments below of the work you are doing on the front lines during this Covid-19 pandemic. Always remember, #StrongerUnited, #rESPect,


ESP Insider Update

IEA Education Support Professionals
IEA Stand Strong
Even though you might feel alone, we are all standing together. Watch our new video! IEA 4@4IEA President Kathi Griffin and IEA Executive Director Audrey Soglin answer your questions. Tune in for the 4@4 every Tuesday and Thursday at 4 p.m. (There will not be a 4@4 on Thurs., April 30 due to the IEA Tele Town Hall at 4 p.m. The next 4@4 will be Tues., May 5.)
Don’t miss these upcoming events for ESPs!
Thurs., April 30, 4 p.m. IEA Tele Town Hall: Join IEA President Kathi Griffin and special guest, State School Superintendent Carmen Ayala, Ph.D. You should receive a call to join, or go to ieanea.org/live at 4 p.m.

Thurs., April 30, 6 p.mNEA Webinar: COVID-19 sick leave, family leave and unemployment benefits

Thurs., May 7, 6 p.m. NEA Webinar: School meal policy in the COVID-19 era
Two quick surveys
Your input is important to us! Please take a few minutes and respond to both surveys:Interest Survey: Please complete this three-question survey. Your local wants to know your interests to ensure you receive the resources, supports and communications that most interest you. Thanks for participating! Do you know an unsung ESP he/shero? Tell us about that person!
Ohio paraprofessional named ESP of the Year

Congratulations Andrea Beeman, 2020 NEA Education Support Professional of the Year!

NEA TodayESP of the Year offers guidance, advocacy during crisis
Nominate an ESP member today!
Use the online nomination form to nominate a special ESP member. A video can be included along with the reasons why the local association president or member of the IEA Board of Directors has nominated the member for an ESP STAR award. Nominees must be a current ESP member of IEA.
ESP reporter form
We are working to recognize ESP contributions and actions through the ESP Insider. When you participate in an event involving ESPs or hear of such an event, please complete the ESP Insider Reporter form.
ESP Council news

SAVE THE DATE! The council is planning to host a virtual ESP Assembly/Council meeting on Sat., June 13, 10 a.m. to noon. More information will be forth coming on how to join using your computer or phone. All ESP members are welcome to participate.
Stay connected with other ESPs:IEA ESP Council websiteIEA ESP websiteESP Professional Caucus on FacebookESP Connections on Facebook

Letter to ESPs from Jill Scarcelli, IEA ESP Council secretary
From my heart to yours…
ESPs support students during the COVID-19 crisis
ESP members from Troy School District 30c volunteered to help distribute Chrome Books to families for their children to use during remote learning.
More on COVID-19 from NEANEA TodaySchool nurses join fight against Coronavirus

NEA Education Policy: Coronavirus and schools

NEA to Congress: Put people first to alleviate suffering caused by COVID-19

NEA RA: NEA to host 2020 Representative Assembly virtually due to COVID-19 pandemic
Stay at home shopping essentials
Check out the member guide with offers and links from Access (an IEA Partner).
All in Illinois
Go to allinillinois.org to hear heartfelt messages and watch short video clips from your favorite Illinoisans. Join IEA and take the pledge to being All In
Other news IEA Connect is here to help!
Contact IEA Connect by phone at 1-844-432-1800, live chat or email, Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The 2020 U.S. Census is happening NOW!
The Census is safe, important and necessary. The Census questionnaire can be completed online, by phone or by email.

SCORE Grants
Information and online application link. Deadline to apply is July 15.

Summer Leadership Academy (SLA)
This year’s SLA, July 20-22, will be a virtual, on-line event. Watch for further details.

Save the date!
IEA One Conference, Oct. 2-3, Oak Brook

TOMORROW!! – Webinar: COVID-19 sick leave, family leave, and unemployment benefits

The webinar takes place tomorrow, 4/30 at 7 pm EDT. 

Join NEA’s Office of General Counsel for an informative webinar about your rights to new paid sick and family leave benefits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

We’ll also discuss expanded benefits under unemployment insurance programs for workers who have had their hours reduced or have lost employment due to the pandemic. 

Note: Although we cannot give you legal advice on your specific situation, we will answer questions about the new benefits and educator rights under these federal laws. To cover the most relevant information possible, please submit a question when you register so our team can tailor the presentation. Any questions submitted during the webinar will be recorded with the intent to answer in future webinars or NEA online resources.

Link to Register: https://www.mobilize.us/nea/event/269730/?utm_source=EdAction0428&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=covid19


Don’t Miss This and All 4@4 with IEA President Kathi Griffin and Executive Director Audrey Soglin

4@4: Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Illinois Education Association  · On today’s IEA 4@4 we answer your questions about the school year ending early, clock hours, the Illinois Department of Aging and about meetings in school buildings.

NOTE: There will not be a posting of IEA 4@4 this Thursday because of the tele-town hall with special guest State Superintendent Dr. Carmen Ayala, which will be at 4 p.m. on Thursday.

The IEA 4@4 will resume again on Tuesday, May 5. Please leave any questions you have for the 4@4 in the comments below.


NEA/IEA Covid-19 Webinars and More

During these recent months both NEA an IEA have been working tirelessly to provide members with the information necessary to successfully go through this time of virtual learning and uncertainty due to Covid-19. NEA and IEA have been rallying for our rights! They have been a strong voice at tables, bringing our concerns and advocating for our members, helping to make decisions on behalf of ALL of our members. Check back often as webinars, and tele-town halls are being organized often and many happen quickly.

National Education Association

Education Support Professionals Quality (ESPQ) Department

Center for Great Public Schools Webinar

School Meal Policy in the COVID-19 Era

Thursday, May 7, 2020

7:00 PM – 8:00 PM EST

Register at


This webinar will explore the policy and practice of feeding hungry children in the midst of an epidemic. What intelligent and pressing advocacy has the NEA Government Relations engaged in? How have food service workers met the challenges in spite of obstacles and risks? NEA lobbyist, Christin Driscoll, NEA New Mexico Director of Instruction and Professional Learning, Ignacio Sanchez, and Angelica Castañon, Senior Policy Analyst with NEA’s Education Policy and Practice, will lead this timely and lively discussion.

Christin Driscoll, NEA Lobbyist
Angelica Castañon, Senior Policy Analyst, NEA’s Education Policy and Practice
Ignacio Sanchez, NEA New Mexico Director of Instruction and Professional Learning


NEA affiliate leaders, staff, members and partners. All interested parties are welcome. You are encouraged to forward this invite to your partners, leaders and other team members.


Tim Barchak, NEA Sr. Program/Policy Analyst

Jessica Brinkley, NEA Sr. Program/Policy Analyst

Questions? Contact Jessica Brinkley at jdbrinkley@nea.org.

For more ESP professional development opportunities, visit www.nea.org/esppd

Also-Join Kathi Griffin this Thursday for a Tele-Town Hall

Please join State School Superintendent Carmen Ayala, Ph.D., and me for a tele town hall on Thurs., April 30, from 4 to 5 p.m. You will have the opportunity to ask questions about remote learning, certification, evaluations and anything else involving PreK-12 education in Illinois.
IEA members should receive a call on Wednesday around 4 p.m. as a reminder of the tele town hall. The caller ID should show IL Education from 217-203-0491. For the actual event, members should receive another call beginning before 4 p.m. on Thursday. Simply answer the call and you will be connected. If for any reason a call does not come through, members can still join the tele town hall at 4 p.m. Thursday by going to ieanea.org/live.
Thank you and we look forward to having you join us for the tele town hall on Thursday.

Be well,

Kathi Griffin
IEA President


ESP and the Covid Crisis: The Next Response Webinar


NEA Education Support Professional Quality & NEA Center for Organizing

ESPs and the COVID Crisis: The Next Response

Monday, 4/27

7:00–8:15 pm Eastern Standard Time

As states decide to keep school campuses closed and the federal government proposes a plan for reopening the country, there is much uncertainty about the next school year. And while we grapple with the current crisis, we need to think about what’s next. What will the school year look like this Fall? What can we do now to prepare as the crisis continues? Join us as we share strategies through legislative action, member advocacy, organizing, and professional development so we can ensure ESPs are there next year to help build back students’ lives.


  • Rae Nwosu, President, National Council of Education Support Professionals (NCESP), TX
  • Brent McKim, President, National Council of Urban Education Associations (NCUEA), KY
  • Andrea Beeman, 2020 NEA ESP of the Year, OH
  • Arizona Education Association
  • Association of Salem Keizer Education Support Professionals, Oregon Education Association
  •  Northshore Education Association, Washington Education Association
  • NEA Government Relations
  • NEA Center for Bargaining and Member Advocacy

Please click the link below to join the webinar on 4/27 at 7:00 pm EST:


Password: 145713

Or iPhone one-tap :

    US: +13126266799,,99137314466#,,#,145713#  or +16465588656,,99137314466#,,#,145713#

Or Telephone:

    Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):

    US: +1 312 626 6799  or +1 646 558 8656  or +1 346 248 7799  or +1 669 900 9128  or +1 253 215 8782  or +1 301 715 8592

    Webinar ID: 991 3731 4466

    Password: 145713

    International numbers available: https://zoom.us/u/am4kud6yQ


Unmasked: A Covid-19

This important virtual town hall is hosted by the NAACP and BET and is part of a series of discussions that explore how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting the Black community.  I invite you to join in. The conversation will be focusing on how educators, parents, and students can safeguard education.  

You won’t want to miss this conversation on the pandemic and education featuring Marc Lamont Hill, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Congresswoman Maxine Waters. RSVP here to tune in: https://bit.ly/34RrYVE 


Pritzker Announces Schools Closed For In-Person Learning For Rest of Academic Year

Governor Pritzker Announcement

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that all public and private schools across Illinois will remain closed for in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

We knew the announcement was coming, but the anxiety and sadness still hits hard. Each day of e-learning I miss and worry a little more!! We will continue to support our students, teachers, and communities the best we know how. We are ESP!!


From my heart to yours

How are you? No, really?! I don’t want the I’m fine answer that we give everyone or the funny meme on Facebook! How are YOU really?!

I’m going to admit something..and this is going to be hard for me. So forgive me if it doesn’t come out right….Over these last couple of weeks I’ve mentally shut down in part. I had to. I’ve watched mindless TV. Worked hours upon hours in my Google Classroom. I haven’t been able to listen to news updates. I haven’t been able to listen to the mayors, governors, or presidential updates. The numbers of victims from this virus…the pain and heartache that each family is feeling has really gutted me. The frustration I feel!! Thankfully Easter came…For me Easter has been a time of healing and has reminded me that it is always darkest before the dawn.

This morning as I watch the sun rise on this new day, I have never been more proud to be an ESP. ESP along with grocery clerks, truck drivers and restaurant workers, gas station attendants and so many more “ESSENTIAL” positions are holding this country together. This horrific virus has shined a 1000 watt spotlight on what and who makes this country great. It’s YOU! It’s all the people who are giving, helping, supporting, and working to make sure product gets to where it’s going, our shelves are restocked, and students are learning. It’s not only the doctors and nurses (heroes for sure), but the orderlies, custodians, the receptionists in healthcare…, It’s the educators who aren’t just thinking outside of the box to support and educate their students…they have to recreate the whole damn box. It’s you! You are ESP, you are doing your best to support students, districts, and communities during this dare I say, unprecedented time.

We can’t let this time be for nothing. We can’t let the lessons we are being taught now be forgotten in a few months. Now is the time that our voices matter most. Those positions who were not worth more than or barely above minimum wage 6 months ago are keeping our country going. Remember in November! Your voice, your vote matters!!

Jill Scarcelli, IEA ESP Council Secretary


From NEA Board of Directors

Hi IEA friends! We will be voting on this in about a week. What are your thoughts?

On April 19th, a committee of the whole that includes state affiliates, observers, and the NEA Board of Directors will be discussing a yet to be distributed motion to postpone or cancel NEA RA scheduled to be held in Atlanta GA.

The NEA Constitution “authorizes the Board, in cases of national emergency, to postpone or cancel the RA and it will take a 2/3 vote in favor to do this.”

The NEA board will be voting on the proposal April 20th, after the committee of the whole discussion.

As your NEA Directors, We would like your thoughts, comments, or questions about this proposal so that we can bring them to the discussion. Thanks in advance! Feel free to post them here or contact one of us.


21 teachers among 50 New York City education employees dead of coronavirus

I am not impressed with how this article is written…we as ESP seem to be second class citizens, but I think it is extremely important to show support for our ESP sisters and brothers in New York and across the nation. Thank you to everyone who is still supporting students, families and communities. As I say all the time, what you do matters. Now more than ever, your familiar face over Zoom, support given to teachers, meals made, handed out, and delivered, buildings cleaned and sanitized, and so much more. Continue to read article.

As of April 10, 2020, the 50 employees who have passed as reported by their family members and loved ones:

  • 22 are paraprofessionals
  • 21 are teachers
  • 2 are administrators
  • 1 is a facilities staffer
  • 1 is a guidance counselor
  • 1 is a food service staffer
  • 2 central office employees
  • 1 employee listed above was also staffing a REC

“This is painful news for too many of our communities-each number represents a life, a member of one of our schools or offices, and the pain their loved ones are experiencing is unimaginable. We will be there to support our students and staff in any way they need, including remote crisis and grief counseling each day. We mourn these losses and will not forget the impact each person had on our DOE family,” Chancellor Richard A. Carranza said.


School Nurses Join Fight Against Coronavirus

After a grueling shift, exhausted nurses and doctors walk out hospital doors, their tired faces red and raw where masks have rubbed against their skin for many long hours. But when they’re met by a chorus of cheers and salutes from firefighters, police, and EMTs, those tired faces break into smiles, and, a lot of the time, tears.

Among them is Sue Weimer, the school nurse from Shawnee High School in Burlington County, New Jersey. Now she’s on the front lines, caring for the surge of coronavirus patients as a per diem nurse at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she had been working part time as an ER nurse on weekends during the school year.


[WEBINAR] Student Loan Relief: What the COVID-19 relief law means to student loan borrowers

NEA will be hosting a live webinar, Student Loan Relief: What the COVID-19 Relief Law means for Student Loan Borrowers, on Tuesday, April 14 at 7 p.m. ET (4 p.m. PT).

Educators, and particularly educators of color, have been burdened by student debt for far too long. And the COVID-19 crisis risks making that debt even more burdensome.

Congress has enacted the CARES Act, a COVID-19 relief law that includes big changes to those who have student debt.

These changes include a suspension of interest and payments for borrowers who have federal student loans from April 10, 2020 to September 30, 2020. NEA is still fighting for a more expansive and more extended suspension of payments. And NEA is also fighting to cancel some or all of our members’ federal student loans.

Join NEA for a Zoom webinar to discuss:

  1. Details on the student loan provisions in the CARES Act;
  2. What it means for you and what you should be thinking about doing with your student loans during the suspension period;
  3. The support available to NEA members to help them manage their loans; and
  4. What you can do to fight for broader suspension and cancellation.

Cafeteria workers need support during the COVID-19 pandemic

Cafeteria workers need to be recognized with labor protections for risking their own health to continue serving free meals to students

“These essential workers deserve a federal guarantee that they will earn at least $15 per hour, have access to paid-sick leave and affordable healthcare, and retire with dignity. The pandemic has shown us just how important ‘lunch ladies’ are, and we owe it to them to remember this lesson when school is back in session.” #rESPect #WeLoveOurESP

The halls of K-12 schools across the country are eerily quiet, as teachers and students stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Yet cafeteria workers are reporting to work, figuring out innovative ways to serve children free, nutritious school meals in the middle of a pandemic that has caused unprecedented job loss and economic upheaval. Click to read more.


One Conference, Save the Date! Presenters Needed!!!

Save the Date! Presenters Needed!! Do you or do you know of someone who is an “expert” on a topic that would benefit ESP. The ESP Council is looking for presenters for the next One Conference, 2nd-3rd October 2020.

Do you have something that you’re passionate about? Do you teach yoga (self care)? Do you have special tips and tricks in your job category? How about presenting the benefits of an ESP mentoring program? There are countless topics that would benefit ESP. Share your talents with others.

Please submit your proposal! Deadline is April 20th. Please contact me if you have any questions.


Respect matters! This is a must see!!!

This had tears running down my checks. Finally someone gets it!! When you feel respected and valued, it makes all the difference in the world. Please know today, your union family sees how amazing you are, knows that what you do (at home or in school) is vital to our students and communities. As we navigate these next few weeks and months we are here for you to remind you that you are smart, brave, vital, and together we can face anything!

I hope this makes you smile!!!

We Love
Our ESPs

Take Time to Breathe

Remember when you were so busy to take time for yourself? Remember when you wished you could read a book or get to that project? Now is the time for you to do the things you’ve wanted to get done. You don’t have to have a spotless house….no one is coming over. You don’t have that long commute, most of us are already at work. Now is the time to take a few minutes to breathe and remember you are Amazing, you are Smart, what you do everyday matters! Especially taking care of yourself.


Posted from NEA TODAY

Andrea Beeman, ESP of the Year

Andrea Beeman

“I became an NEA member for one simple reason: someone at my local took the time to ask! With their mentorship, I jumped into union activism and became very involved. After serving on several committees and received scholarships to attend national and state association conferences – and going to the NEA Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly as a paraprofessional representative delegate, I was eager to become even more involved.

I successfully ran for president of my local, Maple Organization Support Team, in Maple Heights, Ohio, and immediately began to work to eliminate the sense of hopelessness many of the ESP members felt. As president, I worked hard to build relationships with my members. I wanted to cultivate an environment of solidarity and build member’s confidence. My members are now activists who have confidence and will stand up for their rights.

One of my proudest accomplishments was working to bring union solidarity and protections to our district’s food service workers. They were a classification excluded from our bargaining unit. These educators had not received a raise in eight years, their salary scale had only three steps, and they had no longevity pay or bereavement days. After having one-to-one conversations, followed by formal group discussions, we obtained authorization cards for 90 percent of the cafeteria staff and they are now members.

Today, I’m prouder than ever to be an ESP member of NEA. As COVID-19 closes schools and grips the nation, our members have stepped up to serve our students in all capacities, doing so with courage and grace. As the 2020 ESP of the Year, it is my mission to advocate for our ESPs and give them the respect and recognition every educator deserves.”

Andrea Beeman, ESP of the Year, Special Education Paraprofessional, Maple Heights, OH


Covid-19 and Child Nutrition Resources

As you advocate for our nutrition members and help districts to continue serving school meals during this time of crisis, you might find useful the following guidance and recommendations from Education Policy and Practice of the NEA.

COVID-19 and School Meals

The National Education Association recognizes the vital role that public schools and child care centers play in providing healthy and nutritious meals to children throughout the school and program year. Some 30 million children across the country participate in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-funded school meal programs every year. A large majority of our children rely heavily on these programs because they are in low-income households: According to USDA data, nearly three-quarters of school lunches nationwide are provided for free or at a reduced price. The free lunch participation rate has gone up every year since 2001, and was 20.2 million in 2018. The CDC estimates that children consume as many as half of their daily calories at school, with kids from food-insecure households getting a larger proportion of their daily food and nutrition intake from school meals.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to necessitate school closures, NEA is here to provide guidance to our Affiliates on how to continue providing meals to students in need.

Continue Meal Service

The USDA has authorized School Food Authorities (SFAs) and other eligible community organizations to continue serving meals to students affected by school or child care closures.

Apply for the Area Eligibility Waiver

The USDA recently granted a nationwide waiver that will allow program operators to serve meals in a non-congregate setting, provides flexibility to the meal service time requirement, allows operators to forgo the educational/enrichment activity requirement, and permits caregivers to pick up school meals without the presence of a child. Unfortunately, these waivers do not go far enough. In this time, when we are expecting the virus to spread and more families to lose jobs and teeter on the edge of food insecurity, it is critical that states provide additional meal sites and apply for the area eligibility waiver.

Do More

Due to a number of challenges, only one in every six eligible students utilizes the summer meals program. States can do more to ensure students and families do not go hungry during this time. The recent COVID-19 federal relief legislation enables states to provide emergency allotments (supplements) to SNAP households and give income-eligible families with children in closed schools Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards to use at food stores and farmer’s markets. States will need to inform the USDA of their plans to take part in these programs.

Best Practices

Continuation of school meal programs is an important part of maintaining the health and well-being of students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Communities that have closed schools have relied on a variety of approaches to distribute meals. Some best practices include:

  • Providing information related to meal sites in multiple languages and formats (e.g., social media, flyers, phone calls);
  • Distributing information through multiple channels (e.g., schools, government agencies, local non-profits);
  • Maximizing access to meal sites by providing flexible hours;
  • Offering multiple meals at the same time while practicing social distancing;
  • Offering “grab and go” meals outside of buildings;
  • Providing drive-thru options;
  • Decentralizing food preparation and distribution and engaging multiple kitchens;
  • Delivering meals to school bus stops;
  • Delivering meals directly to students; and
  • Collaborating with local non-profits (e.g., food banks) to provide groceries along with meals.

Other Considerations

During this frightening time, students in need of meals may also need other support such as health care, mental health services, and social services. Be sure to virtually convene your specialized instructional support personnel, such as social workers and counselors, as well as local service providers to discuss addressing the entire range of student needs while schools are closed. Some districts have staffed their meal delivery buses with school nurses and/or social workers.



Check out our new ESP Professional Development Page

ESP Council

This is a very stressful time for everyone with the threat of Covid-19. These uncertain times have wreak havoc on everyone’s emotions. Schools are closed and families are stressed! Many school districts are asking ESPs to continue professional development while planning and implementation is figured out for e-learning.

First of all please remember to breathe. We will prevail. We will get through this. To help ESPs navigate the professional development websites, I’ve created a new page to help you find great quality ESP professional development. Please check out the new ESP Professional Development page on this site.


Everyone Counts: ESPs and the 2020 Census

In March, the U.S. Census Bureau sent mailings to households all across America. The response to these mailings will affect funding and political power in every state, city and school district. Over $1.5 trillion in federal funds rely on census data, including funds for special education, teacher training, school lunch, transportation, Head Start and after-school programs. Every person missed by the Census means less money and less political power for your community. Even though the Census is safe, important and necessary – it misses millions of people every time. This session will discuss NEA’s “Everyone Counts” campaign, and what ESPs can do to make sure they, their students and their communities are counted fully.


We need your voice now!!

Latest update from ISBE State Superintendent

“ISBE contemplates that districts will eventually transition to Remote Instructional Days. We have assembled an advisory group composed of teachers, administrators, and stakeholders to make recommendations about what Remote Instructional Days would look like. This advisory group will explore what is possible and what is reasonable under these unprecedented circumstances, keeping always in mind the incredible diversity and varying capacity of our 852 school districts.”

The Illinois State Board of Education is assembling an advisory group, consisting of various stakeholders including ESP. Members of our Illinois ESP Council will be included in this meeting making your voice heard loud and clear. We need your voice now. Comment on this post, or contact your esp council directly by clicking on the link below.

Please include all concerns and possible solutions to your concerns. It is extremely important that we bring not only our fears, but the solutions we want to see. ESP are the backbone in our schools. They hold everything together and support the masses. Lets pull together and not just bring ALL ESPs through this, but lets bring ALL ESPs through this Stronger Together!

#StrongerTogether #rESPect #


Thank you the many ESPs who are serving our communities through this trying time.

ESP Proud!!

School bus drivers are making a difference!!

This is just one of the many stories that shows what amazing ESPs are doing all around the country!! Thank you for all that you do. Please share what you or your ESP members are doing to help our students and communities through this trying time. Stay safe, stay healthy, and remember we will get through this, stronger together!! We Are ESP!!!


We want to hear from you: Your Voice Matters!!

ESPs tell your story!

With the concern over ESPs, at this perilous time, and knowing that all ESPs matter. For this post I want to address school food service workers, who may fall ill or need to quarantine/self isolate, how might schools be able to address still making sure kids are fed? Concerns over running afoul of CBAs? Concerns over our members losing their jobs, etc., but how to have hands on deck to get the food out.


Our goal is to provide examples of solutions that could do a few things 1) ensure the food industry doesn’t use this time as an opportunity to push privatization of our food service workers and 2) provide a healthy list of ideas schools can use that would prevent them from putting their operations at unnecessary risk by having one central food preparation and distribution school.

Please send your ideas to Tim Barchak, TBarchak@nea.org ASAP. Feel free to collaborate with your colleagues on ideas or share what your district is doing.