Paraprofessional standards will stay in place
THE WAIT IS OVER for a rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which ushered in the era of paraprofessionals after its original passage in 1965.
The Every Student Succeeds Act retains formulas to help schools mitigate the effects of concentrated poverty and preserves vital language that will maintain high standards for paraprofessionals. Signed into law Dec. 10, the federal law will be a sea change for public education. Although not perfect, it goes a long way toward fixing its flawed predecessor, the No Child Left Behind Act.
The new legislation keeps certification for paraprofessionals and strengthens provisions requiring collaboration between paraprofessionals and teachers on school improvement and professional development.
The law also maintains the federal funding commitment to children living in poverty, and re-envisions accountability that, until now, has been only about test scores. And it expands collective bargaining protections.
AFT President Randi Weingarten points to the bill’s passage as an example of how PSRPs make a difference in education. Congress received repeated waves of calls, letters and visits from paraprofessionals and school-related personnel in the year leading up to the vote.
“We wouldn’t be here without you,” Weingarten says. “Our members worked hard to make sure that we, as people who want to make a difference in students’ lives, were heard. More than 130,000 of you took action online, made phone calls, submitted comments on the bill and met with your members of Congress, and it made a difference.”
Most important, PSRPs look forward to educators having the latitude to teach to the needs and aspirations of all our children.