United States: Education Support Personnel hit hard by budget cuts

published 18 August 2015 updated 19 August 2015

The educaction community in the United States highlights a worrying trend: shrinking budgets or ending grant money push Education Support Personnel (ESP) into unemployment, reducing overall education employee capacity.

The EI-affiliated National Education Association reports in its NEAtoday magazine how many ESP positions are in jeopardy, even if schools and communities recognize their value. The most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that, as of 2012, there were nearly 30,000 people working in health and student services at the K-12 level. Highlighting the problems these professionals encounter, NEAtoday quotes Laura Montgomery, a recently retired home-school counselor for the Pulaski County School District in Arkansas, who went from servicing one or two elementary schools to working with several different schools. “Several years ago, 14 people did this work. Last year, it was cut down to one person - and that person was me,” she said. “It’s hard to be productive with 38 different schools.”

At its recent 7th World Congress, held in Ottawa, Canada, in July, Education International adopted a resolution reaffirming its commitment to promoting and protecting the right and freedoms of all education employees and recongising the vital role of Education Support Personnel in ensuring quality education for all, and their rightful place in the education community. A short animated film was produced to highlight the importance of Education Support Personnel as integral part of the education workforce.

Item based on reporting by Brenda Álvarez for NEAtoday.