On Monday, Nov. 6, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) joined Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) & Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in introducing a Paraprofessionals and Education Support Staff Bill of Rights. The resolution, which aims to provide relief and support to education workers in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and continuation of stagnant wages, has gained support from progressives in the House and Senate.
In unveiling the resolution, Markey noted that since the COVID-19 pandemic, 331,000 school staff have left their jobs. This exodus of educational aides and support staff members is largely due to low wages and long hours, something we documented in Texas in our 2022 report The Lost Decade. As we know, our schools do not run without paraprofessionals and support staff, something that Markey acknowledged last week.
“We have asked them to educate, feed, transport, and support students in their path to grow, learn, and thrive – all without the pay, benefits, and job security they deserve,” Markey said. “My Paraprofessionals and Education Support Staff Bill of Rights is a call for action to provide these workers with the dignity, respect, and recognition that they have long deserved. Well-paid, well-treated, union staff make stronger schools and stronger communities.”
AFT has backed the resolution, which calls for PSRP employees to be guaranteed:
- Livable, competitive wages, and access to benefits, including health care and paid leave
- The supplies, resources, and training they need to do their jobs
- Meaningful voice in workplace policies and the right to negotiate for better working conditions
- The dignity of safe, healthy, and adequate staffed workplaces
- Year-round job security and opportunities for growth.
“This bill of rights is about making sure there is dignity and respect for the righteous work you do every single day,” said Randi Weingarten, president of AFT, at a news conference with lawmakers.
While at the Capitol, AFT members — including Texas members from Alliance/AFT and Houston Educational Support Personnel — visited their representatives, encouraging them to support the resolution and their vital work as custodians, food service employees, IT technicians, office staff, bus drivers, and classroom aides.
In advocating for real solutions for our kids and schools, they also registered their opposition to extreme funding cuts proposed by House Republicans. You can do the same by writing to your representative.
Denetris Jones with Houston Educational Support Personnel and Yolanda Fisher with Alliance/AFT at the rollout of the Paraprofessionals and Education Support Staff Bill of Rights.