Home Minnesota Educator ESP Bill of Rights introduced again to support hourly workers

ESP Bill of Rights introduced again to support hourly workers

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Education Minnesota and other education labor unions are once again putting a focus on legislation that would better support education support professionals in their careers.

The ESP Bill of Rights has been introduced in previous sessions and has been reintroduced this year.

Authored by Rep. Brad Tabke in the House and Dr. Alice Mann in the Senate, HF 1348/SF 1318 have had multiple hearings in committees, as of press time.

The proposal:

  • Increases the minimum starting salary of hourly school workers to $25 an hour.
  • Guarantees two days of paid training for all support personnel who work with students.
  • Gives special education staff built-in due process time to manage their students’ individual plans.
  • Expands access and increases affordability of hourly school workers’ health care, including covering them between school years.
  • Sustains pay during e-learning days. 

Jessica Gleason, a paraprofessional in Robbinsdale, testified in support of the bill when it was presented in the House Education Policy committee March 1.

“You’ve probably met more of these ESPs than you realize,” she said. “Because they are your cashiers in the retail stores where you shop, they are behind the service desks at community facilities in your town. They are working 18-hour days to make ends’ meet, picking up Friday night server shifts after finishing their work day at school, just to wake up on Saturday morning to work another 10-hour shift when they should be decompressing. How long will they stay?” 

“I am seeing an historically high number of open ESP positions in the district and the toll it puts on those that choose to stay. ESPs that are tackling a double/triple workload will continue to leave. ESPs that are working second and third jobs to survive will continue to leave. The issues in recruitment and retention due to low wages and increased insurance costs will continue to trickle down to the quality of our students’ education and that’s why you need to act now.”

Catina Taylor, the ESP chapter president of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and Education Support Professionals, has testified in support of the bill and spoke at a press conference with other educators and Rep. Tabke on March 7. The video of the press conference can be found on Education Minnesota’s Facebook page.

Taylor said that for ESPs, this is their chosen profession, and one job should be enough for these important professionals in our schools.

“Low pay and uncertainty of summer employment are forcing many ESPs to leave the profession,” said Taylor. “Having a starting wage of $25, access to unemployment in the summer and access to affordable health care —that shouldn’t be too much to ask for. School staffing shortages are at an all-time high and we need to move quickly and swiftly to make sure we can recruit and retain the school staff our students need.”

Sign on to support the ESP Bill of Rights at edmn.me/espbillofrights.

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