AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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AFT Resolutions

PARAPROFESSIONALS AND TITLE I

WHEREAS, classroom paraprofessionals have been part and parcel of Title I, the federal government's largest program serving disadvantaged youngsters, for more than 30 years; and

WHEREAS, Title I has played a major role in cutting the achievement gap between disadvantaged and advantaged students by one half during this period, and this record could not have been achieved without the team efforts of teachers and paraprofessionals on behalf of supporting student learning; and

WHEREAS, beginning as early as the late 1980s, paraprofessionals began to report to the AFT that many school districts were backing away from providing training to professionals and adhering to the standards that clearly delineated the respective roles of paraprofessionals and teachers and that a growing number of administrators were even misassigning paraprofessionals to office work and to serve as short-term or long-term substitute teachers, all in violation of the letter, spirit and past practice of the Title I law and against the interests of disadvantaged youngsters; and

WHEREAS, the AFT repeatedly conveyed these findings to Congress and other federal officials and has in every reauthorization of Title I sought high-quality mandatory training for paraprofessionals, cross-training between paraprofessionals and teachers, clear definitions of the appropriate roles of paraprofessionals, and an assortment of remedies to prevent the misassignment of paraprofessionals; and

WHEREAS, the early and repeated alarms raised by paraprofessionals working in Title I schools went unheeded until recently, when these issues were corroborated by external studies of the program, but that are now being used to justify proposed legislative changes that range from setting unrealistically high educational requirements to eliminating the use of Title I funding for paraprofessionals altogether, the very paraprofessionals who uncovered and sought remedies for these problems in the first place; and

WHEREAS, there is no excuse for victimizing paraprofessionals, and, with them, the students they support, for abuses they did not create and did everything to stop when the clear solution to the problem is to stop the misassignment of paraprofessionals and to recommit Title I to providing them high-quality training for their appropriate support roles:

RESOLVED, that the AFT coordinate efforts with other education organizations to ensure that all school district and school staff understand the need to bring an immediate end to the misassignment of paraprofessionals in Title I programs, as well as in any other program that may employ paraprofessionals; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT continue to pursue the setting of federal, state and local standards to ensure that paraprofessionals working in the classroom and involved in instructional support, whether in Title I or other programs, are appropriately and adequately trained, assigned duties based on their levels of training and skills, and provided with necessary supervision and direction by teachers; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT support state and local affiliates in their efforts to establish standards, through paraprofessional certification or licensure programs, that would clearly define appropriate roles and responsibilities and employment and training requirements for classroom paraprofessionals.


(2000)