The Paraeducator Dilemna- on Making a Living Wage

One of the most popular posts on our site was a discussion started by a para from Sioux City, Iowa asking what paraeducators make in different states. The 100 replies to that question show that there is a lot of interest in that area.

The entire article provides a great overview of the work that paraeducators do and some of the struggles that they face. Here are a few quotes to whet your appetite:

From Heidi Mann:

“At MLK, the teachers treat us like equals,” Mann says. “We’re not saying we are equal to them. But I’d say we’re at least worth half of what they make.”

On working for a living wage:

While they’re taking care of other people’s children on the playground and in the school cafeteria, many paraeducators struggle to provide for their own children. Many of their children qualify to receive free or reduced lunch in the district for which they work.

“As far as we understand, we are the lowest-paid unit in the district, and we are the ones who are teaching in the classrooms,” (Buffy) Phillips says. “We’re not asking to be paid like the teachers are paid. We just need enough to live on.”

On the work that paras do:

Paraeducators supervise children on the playground, in the lunchroom and classroom, and before and after school. They tutor students in math. They help children learn to read. They lead small groups. And while they don’t craft lesson plans, paraeducators do help teach the lessons.

“I just really could not do my job without them,” says Joan Kirk, a special education teacher at Gilbert Elementary School. “We’re a team.”

Does anything in the article sound familiar to you?

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