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PARAPROFESSIONAL SUPPORT STAFF: THE RELIABLE BACKBONE OF OUR SCHOOLS

As we read about “teacher” strikes across the country and the fight for better pay, smaller class sizes, sound infrastructure and adequate resources for schools, we don’t often hear about the paraprofessional and school support staff who also are walking the picket lines and making sure that children are cared for and their families fed during these walkouts. Paraprofessional and school support personnel are just as important as teachers and make just as much of a difference on strike day — and every day.

It’s not surprising that paraprofessional and support staff remain largely ignored during coverage of work actions. By definition, they work in a supporting role behind the scenes to make sure schools and colleges run smoothly, so sometimes they can seem invisible.

Paraprofessional and Support Staff Losing Pay

Classified employees, or paraprofessional and support staff, are most often paid hourly. In many cases, if they’re offered healthcare insurance, it’s unaffordable. The district often cuts back their hours just far enough so that they’re not eligible for any benefits. This differs from their teacher or administrative co-workers. So, when school is out for bad weather or building-related issues, paraprofessional and support staff lose pay, while their co-workers do not.

Paraprofessionals, bus drivers, custodians, secretaries and the many other job categories are vital to their entire school or college communities. It’s important to acknowledge the work they do and to ensure they have the resources and respect they deserve.

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NEA ESP Leaders for Tomorrow Overview and Guidelines

Exciting News!

For the last 11 years, the NEA ESP Leaders for Tomorrow (LFT) program has supported the development of nearly 200 ESP leaders in 45 states across the country. The LFT program has been instrumental in helping ESP members acquire skills and confidence to lead at the local level. Many program graduates have even stepped into state or national leadership positions. This strength and success has seeded a desire to expand its positive impact. To accomplish this, we’re happy to announce Leaders for Tomorrow will be restructured to reach and develop an increasingly growing body of ESP leaders.

The redesign effort will commence in Spring 2018 and progress towards five important outcomes, all designed to assure growth and strength of ESP and their affiliates:

  • quality and impact for ESP participants, 
  • deep and deliberate connections with local affiliates, 
  • alignment with NEA Leadership Competencies, 
  • increased number of annual participants, and
  • strategic engagement and activism of LFT alumni.

Applications for the next cohort of Leaders for Tomorrow will open shortly after the redesign is complete. Check back for updates!