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Watch Brookline educators and parents speak out in support of paraprofessionals here!
PARAPROFESSIONALS: Why we’re fighting for a fair contract!
WHO ARE PARAPROFESSIONALS AND WHY IS THEIR WORK IMPORTANT?
Paras in Brookline do essential and important work to support the children and teachers in Brookline.
Some paras work in mainstream school classrooms, supporting the teacher so he/she can provide attention to every student. Some paras work in Learning Centers, providing additional support to students with IEPs. Other paras work one-on-one with our most severely disabled students so they can access education. Paras are the ones who keep our technology working. They are building aides that help the day run smoothly.
Teachers and administrators rely on the work of paras to help us meet the needs of our students and to be able to do our own jobs well.
WHAT ARE THE CURRENT WORKING CONDITIONS FOR PARAS?
WHY IS THE SCHOOL COMMITTEE’S OFFER INADEQUATE?
On November 10, the School Committee distributed their last proposal. Three main problems are:
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF THESE CONDITIONS FOR BROOKLINE SCHOOLS?
Because of the lack of a living wage, some paraprofessionals are leaving Brookline – we currently have 350 paras in the system and 125 are new this year. This is disruptive to the work of teachers and administrators and to students’ education. Brookline teachers cannot do their work effectively without well-respected and well-supported paras!
Additionally, paraprofessionals are often the ones implementing students’ 504 plans and individual education plans, both of which are federally mandated. If these working conditions continue for paras, we run the risk of being unable to meet the demands on these legally binding documents, leaving the Town vulnerable to expensive lawsuits from angry and frustrated families. Pay now or pay later.
WHAT ARE WE ASKING FOR IN A NEW CONTRACT?
Paraprofessionals need a significant and fair pay increase and job security. The BEU demands a dependable and livable wage so that we can attract and retain excellent paraprofessionals. No one who works in Brookline schools full time should be expected to live in poverty!
It seems that the Brookline School Committee sees paraprofessional work simply as transitional to another career. It is not – it is a valuable and highly needed profession. Unfortunately, the School Committee’s action is a self-fulfilling prophecy: they treat the paras as transitional, so they leave for better conditions elsewhere.
All Brookline educators stand in solidarity with paraprofessionals, for a contact that compensates them fairly and provides for decent working conditions.
WHAT CAN COMMUNITY MEMBERS DO?
We urge Brookline parents and community members to stand with us.