AFT - American Federation of Teachers

Shortcut Navigation:
 
Email ShareThis

Voices Question

View all PSRP/School Support Staff questions

PSRP/School Support Staff: What is the most pressing issue facing paraprofessionals who work with students with disabilities?

Comments: 40

Working with students with disabilities who also have behavior problems.

Vote

Melanie Davidson
Dayton, TX

I don't work with students who have disabilities anymore, but when I did seven years ago, in Denton I.S.D., the most pressing issue I experienced was having been attacked by a student on numerous occasions. This student had to wear a 'special vest' daily while riding the school bus. This limited his arm movement. However, he did not wear it in the classroom. My injuries required medical attention. I received minimal support from the classroom teacher and the high school principal. After my doctor released me, the principal informed me that I was to return to that same position and if I chose not to, I could quit.

Vote

Lou Sines
Haltom City, TX

TOO MUCH WORK FOR VERY LITTLE PAY. I unload and load these children off and on a bus every day. I diaper them, tube feed them, teach them in in-class support, dress them and clean them. Those who are not tube fed are fed orally by me. I have even changed a colostomy bag. I also do data collection every day for my teacher. Occasionally, I deal with a student who is emotionally disturbed, which means I have been hit, kicked, scratched and bitten.

Vote

Judy Chase
Humble, TX

I am an employee of my school district with 24 years of experience. I work with muti-handicapped elementary students. I LOVE my job and the students that are in my care. I agree that we are the forgotten, hard-working, underappreciated individuals in our schools. The teachers know this, but somehow everyone else in the district forgets about us, especially when it comes to raises. I also, sit in negotiations and listen to overpaid administrators say, "We don't have money for your raises this year." I say, let them take a pay cut and do the work we do for the amount of pay we receive!

Vote

Terry Goforth
AFT 4574
OKC, OK

One of the most pressing issues for these Student Support Personnel paraprofessionals, experienced or new, is the lack of training in their particular unit. Also being left out of the loop when the department team meets to discuss student behavior. Any comments or statements are usually not included. The administration needs to weigh in on the cost of training against the cost of time lost due to injuries and the amount of workmans comp claims annually.

Vote

Jack Crum
San Antonio Alliance
San Antonio, TX

Paraprofessionals are treated like second class citizens. All educators, like paras, are asked to deal with students who swear, bite, hit, and attack on a regular basis. The environment in the hallways, dining halls, bathrooms, etc., is being affected by students who are in classrooms but who belong in alternative settings. I have taught for 35 years and I feel sorry for paraprofessionals. They work hard, get paid little and often have to deal with the toughest students, with little or no support. I think if the public knew what students were exposed to in some of our schools, they would take their children out of school.

Vote

Teresa Mellies
Lockport Education Association
Lockport, NY

There needs to be enough help to ensure the safety of each student, and classrooms and hallways need to be adequate to accommodate wheechairs. Nurses' bathrooms need to be large enough to accommodate disabled students as well.

Vote

Christne Taylor
Tucson, AZ

Having enough time in a day to service all the kids. No time to prepare for the day or time to do all the paperwork necessary. We are expected to keep daily tracking sheets as well as MA billing, and have no time built into our schedules to accomplish either task. Time to communicate with your team members isn't built in, either. Also, there is no opportunity for training.

Vote

Ann Krampitz
ESP
Owatonna, MN

I've spent my 37-year career working as a para, teacher and administrator. Paraprofessionals I've worked with were complete professionals, as committed to students, parents and their colleagues as certified staff members. Too often, districts gave them more direct responsibility, less training and no time to work in planning. Most in education are subjected to disrespect with low pay and high expectations; paras are definitely in the worst position. Administrators and teachers need training on effectively using paras; paras need training customized to their strengths; and everyone needs pay commensurate with their responsibilities and accomplishments, not tests.

Vote

Dona Stallworth
Austin, TX

In our district, we can't seem to keep paraprofessionals on the job. The pay is too little and the demands are too high.

Vote

Debra Scovill
AFT Utah Carbon
Price,, UT

The attempt in some places to require staff, both certificated and classified, to conduct medical procedures, inject drugs, etc. This is dangerous, unacceptable and has to be resisted before the inevitable tragedy it will produce--not afterwards.

Vote

MaryMelissa Grafflin
UESF
San Francisco, CA

Paraprofessionals wear many hats. We take home the concerns of a parent as they relate to the children we work with. We touch their lives and they touch ours. We are in many positions of caring for children who are very fragile physically and mentally. But we feel our profession is not respected, not treated as equal or important because we do the jobs that our administrators could not and would not be employed to do. We are the least paid, the most dependable and concerned employees, but the least valued. When will we be counted valuable?

Vote

Velda Glass
FBEF #6198
Houston, TN

I've just retired but want to do substitute work. I can't because I took an offer of $5,000 plus sick leave. I can return to work after five years; by that time I will be DEAD. Our school was using us as substitute teachers while the teacher was absent, at meetings, late from lunch or any excuse the teacher might have. So now it's a Social Security issue. If we retired from TRS, we don't have any benefits until we apply in a couple more years. But our SSI check will not be as much because we have TRS. It is unfair! We worked for Social Security for when we retire. I would like help on that to give us full retirement benefits, including health insurance.

Vote

Jimmy Cruz
Rio Grande City, TX

Paraprofessionals are essential to our programs. They should never be treated as subordinates, but as partners in the education of our children. We could not effectively do our jobs without them. My bilingual para makes it possible for our SLD students to be served in Spanish. They need the training provided by he district as much as we teachers, and should get it. We need to look at these people not as aides for us but as instructional assistants for the benefit of the children and the stability of our programs.

Vote

Elizabeth Farris
Dallas, TX

The most pressing issue for me now is the fact that not only have I gotten no pay raise for a decade, I've just had to accept a 50-cents-an-hour pay cut, plus two unpaid furlough days. I'm already working two jobs just to support my family and I also have found that my second job interferes with my first job. I definitely cannot give my all to my students because of having to work two jobs. Instructional aides should start at $40,000 a year and top out at $55. I also would like programs to help repay student loan debt.

Vote

holly homan
Shoreline, WA

RESPECT. Having worked in the system for 39 years and now being retired, I have seen a lot and heard a lot from colleagues around the country. I concur with all my colleagues' statements, but I think RESPECT ranks rather high. We have thoughts and ideas and we need to be heard in our schools. We have a nuturing effect when working with children and we need to be recognized for our abilities and not kicked to the side. We too, need to be more active. SOLIDARITY FOREVER.

Vote

Frank Caul
phila., GA

The most pressing issue facing paraprofessionals is trying to survive on below-poverty level wages. I personally have worked multiple jobs and seven days per week, even though I've been a full-time employee in a school district. It is a job that we paras do because we know that we make a difference in the lives of those students we support, as well as the difference we make for the districts we serve. Until the secret of our low wages is made public, I don't expect a change. I invite other paras to help me in volunteering in our communities, ring the bells for the red kettles, etc., so that our communities see our faces!

Vote

Brenda Allen
Honeoye Falls-Lima Ed. Assoc.
Rush, NY

The pressing issues are that there are not enough workshops and professional development opportunities specified for paraprofessionals to help us work with students in a more effective way. Also, we need to know how union reps for the paraprofessionals can build better chapters at the school level and help motivate other paraprofessionals to participate more in the union. A lot of paraprofessionals don't feel part of the union at all.

Vote

Edgar Irizarry, Jr.
UFT
Bronx, NY

Instructional assistants are not recognized for their expertise, and their work experience is often discounted. Some of us have 10-plus years within this area of education. Yet, we are not consulted during the students' IEP process. We are not glorified babysitters. We are highly qualified staff. Yet, we are not receiving training to stay current in our fields. Keep your heads up, and continue the excellence in spite of the lack of recognition. We will continue the struggle.

Vote

Lena Simmons
3AFT 4261
Portsmouth, VA

Paraprofessionals are the most needed professionals in classrooms with students with significant disabilities. They need to be PAID according to their years of service and desire to advance their knowledge in degrees and seminars, and mastery of the program in which they serve. They need pay comparable to that of an early entry teacher if they have been a para for 10+ years! They also need TRAINING in the population of students they serve.

Vote

Josi Ortiz
Albq Teachers Federation
Albuquerque, NM

We as paras are exspected to wear many hats during our day. We need to be educated and properly trained to "handle" many situations. We LOVE our jobs and most important THESE KIDS. To be their doctor, teacher, mom and dad, and support to be successful, we should be compensated to a liveable earning level. Most of us have been in these jobs for a long time because we want to and enjoy the smiling faces we see every day. I know for sure we make a difference in these children's lives, and that's what gets me up every morning! The administrators need to see us this way also!!!

Vote

Dee Alessi
WFSP Waterford Mi
White Lake, MI

I've been working with children with special needs for 12 years. The district I work, for some teachers don't appreciate our role as paraprofessionals; they have their own committee activities and don't include us at all. We are not allowed on the I.E.P plan meetings nor the building meetings. We are hard working and dedicated and we basically know each needs for each student. When the substitutes come to work in our classrooms, they always count on us to run the classroom smoothly. I strongly believe that we should get better pay and more training, and should not cut down paraprofessionals.

Vote

Gloria Duplessis
West Suburban Teachers
Cicero, IL

I think there are TWO major issues: 1) being RESPECT, quit treating us like we are below standard just because we don't have that type 75. 2) being THE PAY. We do just as much, if not more, than than the techers. It's not fair and that's why the turnover rate is so high.

Vote

Leah Cooper
Joliet, IL

I work for a good high school in Calcasieu Parish in Louisiana. I love what I do and have very good teachers and administrators to work for. We as paraprofessionals are always ready to do what is asked of us. I'm a person who would do anything for a teacher or a student. I would like to see our salary come up to meet the fast increases in the cost of everyday living. I can hardly make it from one payday to the next. Please have a big heart this year and give us a raise so we can pay our bills. Thanks, Cathy

Vote

cathy hodges
cft
lake charles, LA

What is pressing for paraprofessionals is that schools are using paras as substitutes, job coaches and teachers. They are keeping paraprofessionals who are state certified in positions as paras because now they are required to obtain additional certification before being considered for a job. Meanwhile, we are not requiring it from alternative certification candidates or Teach for America teachers, and allowing them a year to certify in another subject. Is it fair?

Vote

Susie Alfaro
San Antonio Alliance
San Antonio, TX

Display items per page.

Submit your comment