Reader’s Comment: ESPs Are The Foundation Of Idaho Schools – Please Acknowledge Their Contributions | Chroniclers
Underpaid and overworked. This is the theme of being a Classified Educator across the state of Idaho. This is not a new theme. However, it is becoming increasingly glaring as many classified education personnel are leaving the profession and districts are struggling to find people to fill these crucial positions. Wednesday, November 17 is National ESP Day and is a great time to reflect on the vital work these professional educators do and the sacrifices they make to help Idaho students. (ESP stands for Education Support Professional, which indicates a classified position or support staff).
Our schools cannot function without our secretaries, paraprofessionals, babysitters, cooks, bus drivers and many other job categories. They are some of our most dedicated educators, but their salaries are so low that many qualify for public assistance, and most work two or three jobs to keep their families afloat. With housing costs at an all time high and food prices on the rise, there does not appear to be any relief in sight.
This school year has brought new and greater challenges. Many school districts are resuming their usual activities, while facing shortages of substitute teachers and staff absences, which pose major problems for class coverage. Paraprofessionals are removed from their normal hours to replace on a given day. And everyone is on deck when it comes to pre-school, lunch / recess and after-school chores to keep students safe. While our classified staff cover classrooms and cover recreation duties, their breaks or lunches are waived.
People also read …
This has a huge impact on our students. When our paraprofessionals are not in their assigned classrooms to assist with interventions, students do not receive the extra one-on-one or small-group time that they might need to help them succeed and succeed. make the progress they are capable of.
Districts are also running out of bus drivers – resulting in many drivers having multiple routes for the same school – meaning children wait at school for buses to return to pick them up and take them home. . Districts are little gatekeepers – meaning rooms may only be disinfected every alternate day, or some cleaning responsibilities fall on teachers and other classified staff. Every category of employment in education is affected by the staff shortage. And our students too.
November 17 is National Education Support Professionals Day. It’s a day to thank our ESPs, our classified staff, for all they do. A smile, a kind word, a little gift, all of these are appreciated more than you might think, but don’t fully recognize the sacrifices our classified staff make.
Our classified staff love our students and want to see them succeed. Unfortunately, they are not always appreciated for the amazing things they do for the students and for the good functioning of our schools. The biggest thank you we can show our classified staff is for giving them a voice and allowing them to support their own families as they support so many Idaho students. Help us push for better funding by the Idaho legislature that will provide living wages for these amazing men and women.
Katie Wiese is ESP-at-large on the IEA Board of Directors. She is also a librarian / classified staff in the Vallivue school district.