Valuing our school’s para-educators | Letter

Paraeducators are trained professionals who meet Washington State’s recommended core competencies in accordance with RCW 28A.415.310.

Paraeducators are trained professionals who meet Washington State’s recommended core competencies in accordance with RCW 28A.415.310. They assist certified staff in providing instructional and other services to students and their families. Paraeducators are a valuable asset to our students, and our school community. They deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Northshore’s paraeducators are on the lowest tier of the Northshore Education Support Professionals Association (NESPA) pay scale. According to a study conducted by the Compensation Technical Working Group, the average Northshore’s paraeducators salary is approximately $6 an hour below the recommended wage.

In addition to being under paid, many of our paraeducators are kept to a part-time status, and do not receive benefits. Our paraeducators work hard, but often struggle to feed their own families. It is not uncommon to hear of paraeducators who are on food stamps, and whose children receive free and reduced lunches.

I believe that we can do better. Celebrating “classified employee week” each year, with its parties and lunches, is a nice gesture, but it doesn’t address the problem. Our paraeducators deserve to be properly compensated for the important work they perform. They deserve to be afforded the work hours necessary to qualify for the same benefits other Northshore employees receive.

It is time the school district treat our paraeducators with dignity and respect. For too long they have been viewed as “just moms wants to keep busy while their kids are in school.” These men and women are dedicated professionals working to make a difference in the lives of our children. All they ask is the right to earn enough to provide for their own families in the process. I don’t think that is too much to ask.

Berta Phillips, Candidate for Northshore School Board

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