Several districts across Washington state are beginning to lay off Educational Support Professionals (ESPs) who provide safety and support for students, including health clerks, paraeducators, nutrition service employees, bus drivers, custodians, and maintenance staff. These school district and school board decisions are short-sighted in a time when districts should be recognizing the value of every school staff member.
ESPs: A foundation for our students
Great public schools require a combined effort by many dedicated people. Our Education Support Professionals (ESPs) are committed, caring WEA members who prepare students for success every day. They are our secretaries and office clerks, bus drivers, paraeducators, food service workers, custodians and maintenance staff, security, healthcare providers, skilled trades and technical staff.
Aneeka Ferrell, Renton Professional Technical Association member and Substitute Coordinator for the Renton School District, recently had the opportunity to be a guest on the NEA School Me podcast. She spoke about implicit bias and mitigating social and racial injustices.
On her experience doing the School Me podcast, Aneeka says, “I felt so humbled to be thought of by National Education Association staff to 'even' be considered for this opportunity. I felt that people believed enough in me, my work, my thoughts, and my perspective, that they wanted me to share it on a national platform ... which was hard to believe because it could reach so many people! And to allow me the opportunity to share my perspective about implicit biases as it relates to mitigating social and racial injustices in our educational systems was awesome."
Aneeka serves as a core team member of the Rainier Educators of Color Network in the Rainier UniServ Council. She also is a certified trainer for WEA in the areas of Implicit Bias and the Fundamental Courses of Study as it relates to Equity. Listen to the podcast at School Me podcasts.
Nov. 18 is Education Support Professional Day as part of NEA's American Education Week celebrations. NEA President Becky Pringle shares a message.
WEA Education Support Professional of the Year
Congratulations to Keri Roberts, a member of Central ESP. WEA ESP ACT Chair Rochelle Greenwell surprised Roberts at her Bremerton home on March 31 to inform Roberts of her selection as the 2021 ESP of the Year in an event Rochelle shared live in a zoom call from her phone with other WEA leaders. She presented Roberts with flowers, an award plaque and balloons. Roberts was also congratulated by WEA officers Larry Delaney, Janie White and other leaders in a zoom call, and will be honored at this year's WEA RA in mid-April.
Education support professionals play a key role in ensuring student success, and their impact is even stronger when there are clear expectations, when they are valued, and when they have opportunities for professional learning and supports throughout their careers.View trainings
Find your ACT contact
The WEA/ESP Action Coordinating Team is a statewide group made up of leaders from each UniServ Council who are dedicated to advocating for and advising local ESP units. The team works to promote member satisfaction, strengthen local bargaining units and empower education support professionals through increased skills.
The Professional Educator Standards Board has released new guidance for the state’s Paraeducator Certificate program, as a result of the pandemic. All school districts now have until the end of 2020-21 school year to provide all four days of training on the Fundamental Course of Study (FCS).
Districts that chose to offer the complete FCS training this year will be reimbursed for the additional training days at a rate of $218 per completed day of training per paraeducator.
Please note that in-person training requirements are not being waived. Seven of the 28 hours of FCS training must be conducted in person, but the deadline is not until the end of the 2020-21 school year. The remaining 21 hours of FCS training can, if the district chooses, be completed online.
Check our professional development tab for current course offerings.
One year into implementation, the Paraeducator Board is requesting feedback and information from paraeducators to better understand interest in, barriers to, and support needed, for continuous training and career development. To collect this data, the board is asking paraeducators to complete a short, online survey to learn about training experiences, perspectives, and professional goals. The board hopes the data can better inform the program’s structure, identify gaps, and make improvements where necessary.
Working for a living wage
Every worker deserves a living wage. A living wage means earning enough to pay for basic necessities: rent, food, utilities, childcare, healthcare and transportation. People who work full time should not have to live below the poverty line.
Several ESP units in Washington, with assistance from WEA and NEA, have initiated grassroots organizing efforts for living wages in their communities.