To the Editor:
I read the article, “Paraprofessionals: As the ‘Backbones’ of the Classroom, They Get Low Pay, Little Support” (July 13, 2022), and thought, “Finally, someone is acknowledging our plight!”
I have an associate degree in early-childhood education and have been working in the education field for 20 years. I have previously been the lead teacher of a preschool classroom and have also worked as an elementary computer teacher. Currently, I am a special education paraprofessional for a school district in Arizona. I am passionate about what I do! I want every child to feel successful and reach their full potential! But the lack of appreciation for my position coupled with my meager pay is making it hard to continue.
Unless there are drastic pay increases, I will not be returning next school year.
I make $13.80 an hour, which is just a dollar over minimum wage in Arizona. What I make in a year would be considered poverty level. My years of experience and passion account for very little. They are definitely not reflected in my pay! So many of the paraprofessionals at the school I work at are burnt out and frustrated with all the issues mentioned in the article.
I could go on and on with all the details, but the bottom line is that I wanted to thank you for the article. Thank you for recognizing us and the hard work we do because sadly nobody else does!
Special Education Instructional Aide
A version of this article appeared in the November 23, 2022 edition of Education Week as Schools Are Choosing Money Over Experience. Educators Are Fed Up