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

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

After reading all of the comments, I feel fortunate that I am in a relatively small community and am involved in my union. I am the classified VP of our union. From what I have been reading around the states on this site, it is baffling to me. Paras teaching major subjects, being substitute teachers, taking on certificated duties that are "expected," and having responsibilities that are way above their pay scale. This has to be illegal on some level. The educational code somewhere is being violated. There is no one I know more concerned about our students' welfare than paras. Our kids are important, but someone needs to say enough. Say no. Legally say no!!

Vote

Laura Lovelady
MCFSE
Ukiah, CA

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

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

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

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

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

I been an instructional para for 18 years for an alternative education program. We deal with students who have issues with probation, expulsion, emotional disturbances, truancy, special education, behavioral problems and credit deficiencies--the kids no one else wants. All on one campus. Paras are underestimated, underappreciated and most definitely underpaid. My job duties have steadily increased, with more and more responsibilities. We are given mandatory trainings and expected to implement them. We need to be paid better if they are going to expect more from us. I do it now because I love the kids I work with, but it's not right or fair. We are the lowest on the pay scale.

Vote

Laura Lovelady
MCFSE
Nice , CA

Despite the fact that many paraprofessionals have advanced degrees and experience, they often are treated as subordinates. Paras are usually excluded from all meetings regarding their students. We are not afforded any time or planning period to deal with the responsibility of ever increasing amounts of paperwork. Although we often work with these students more intimately than others, our opinion rarely counts when it comes to decsion-making for our students. Our pay does not reflect the amount of work or dedication most paras exhibit. I think the education community, in general, overlooks and underestimates our contribution to our students.

Vote

M Ruggles
Humble, TX

I agree that paras are not given the training, salaries and respect for all we do for students. Without us, these students would be left behind. Training is the key to providing the sevices these students need. Knowing the background or other important information regarding our students would help us design and work as a team in the classroom. There should be no hidden information about a student in the classroom. Also, we give our all to the students we serve, but most of us, when we leave the workplace, can not pay our bills or put food on the table. And if we have kids in school, that is another story. On top of all this, we are told, 'Please don't get sick and miss a day.'

Vote

Doris Baker
Houston, TX

Not enough help. Cutting back on paraprofessionals in the school workforce is a mistake. The kids with disabilities are missing out. Because of the lack of manpower, more and more of them cannot participate in a lot of Special Olympic sports like bowling, swimming and track, just to name a few. Some students need more one-on-one but there are not enough bodies to make their type of learning possible. I have not gotten a (cents) raise in three years. I do back-breaking work along with mentally challenging work. We need to make a living also.

Vote

Barbara Freymann
Magnolia, TX

We need more specific training for the specific disabilities of our students. The better trained the papaprofessional, the better the education for the student.

Vote

MARY BAEZA
Pleasanton, TX

I've been a paraprofessional at this school system for 17 years. The administrators said I did an awesome job with my life skill students, but because of budget cuts I was told I would not have a job for the 2011-12 year. The students I had last year were high school students. The subjects that I taught were biology, world geography, chemistry, American history, economics, and physics. These are all hard subjects which require lots of modifications and one-on-one with the students to get the concepts down for each subject. Because I'm not there, students go to the classroom and work on the computer without human help! The cuts that were made left kids ALONE.

Vote

Caroline Bell
Breckenridge
Breckenridge, TX

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

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 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

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

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

The most pressing issue, after shortage of personnel, is lack of training targeted at better preparing paraprofessionals to support their students with disabilities. In addition, the system treats them as outsiders when planning for the academic needs of their students.

Vote

N Harris
Local 420
Florissant, MO

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

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

Display items per page.

Submit your comment