A word on behalf of our Public School Instructional Assistants

Every school day, the responsibility for making our schools healthier, safer and better places to learn falls just as heavily on public school instructional assistants as it does on public school teachers and public school administrators.

Regardless of whether they are Special Education IAs (providing vital services to one, two, three, four or more special education students) or Traditional IAs (helping teachers prepare and run classrooms so that all the students have the opportunity to learn), IAs are truly on the front line of enhancing educational opportunities for our children.

It is fair to say that the single most important step we could take to improve educational outcomes is to dramatically increase the number of trained and experienced IAs in our schools, especially where students need extra help, due to poverty, language barriers and special education needs.

And when we talk about improving public education, and the very real and increasing threat that is coming from the corporate “education reform” types, who want to layoff teachers, ban or reduce collective bargaining rights, take-over public schools and transfer the care and control of our public schools to various third parties…let’s not forget that many districts do not fund enough IA positions and every district fails to fairly compensate IAs for the incredible work they do.

In Connecticut, public school instructional assistants, (many of who have college degrees), are paid $11 to $14 per hour, for 6.5 hours of work a day, for 186 school days a year.  Add in the 8 paid holidays and subtract out their health insurance premium co-pay and the average IA salary earns in the range of about  $10,800 to $13,500 a year… a rate of pay that places them well below the poverty level.

A core member of the education team, caring for our children, helping them to learn, backing up our teachers and we pay them one-third to a one-half as much as we pay school bus drivers and far less than the pay any other education related employee..

As parents and public school advocates join teachers and their unions in this historic battle to ensure our public schools are run for the benefit of the public and not corporate America, we should be just as loud and clear that  our schools need far more IAs and that IAs deserve far better pay.

Next time you talk about the real difference between creating better schools and “education reform” be sure to add the part that schools need more IAs and IAs need better pay.

Footnote:  Many urban public schools have actually been reducing the number of instructional assistants.  For example, Paul Vallas and the illegal Board of Education in Bridgeport have decided to stop hiring IAs and remove them from the schools completely through the use of attrition.

  • guest

    Absolutely true. 
    Poorer school districts often have to let go their Instructional Assistants and Paraprofessionals when budgets don’t pass.  The teacher to pupil ratio often does not include the IAs or paras, and this skews a lot of the numbers.  A teacher in a poor district will need to devote extra time and care to a student, while in a wealthier district there are paras and IAs to assist.
    By the way, don’t forget Friday’s meeting of concerned parents, teachers, staff, and citizens–at the Mulberry St. Pizza, Manchester, CT at 4:00.

  • Linda174

    Yes, whenever they cut aides and/or teachers they add another layer at the top. 

    We are top heavy and bottom weary.

    NCLB ….no consultant left behind

    RTTT….reassign or reallocate to the top

    I don’t need one more supervisor, coach, vice or principal, specialist, literacy expert telling me what to do. 

    We need more who “do”.

    Can these “experts” actually work directly with children for a change?

    Imagine that!

    • Brutus2011

      to Linda174: When you write, “We are top heavy and bottom weary,” you hit the nail on the head. I think this is where we need to make our case. But then sometimes I think that several of us need to run for mayor of our respective communities and if successful, clean house and rebuild from the classroom up.

      (And I can’t make it to Manchester on Friday, can you guys schedule a meeting closer to New Haven. Say between Hartford and New Haven?)

      • Linda174

        Yes, our first meeting was in Hartford. I will make note to schedule our next meeting close to New Haven. Can you suggest a place..restaurant where we can talk?

      • Bill Morrison

        We have had two meetings, one in Hartford and one in Willimantic. Our third will be in Manchester. We are trying to cover the state.  Our fourth can be closer to New Haven. As Linda asks, can you suggest a location?

        • Brutus2011

          to Bill Morrison and Linda174: I don’t get out much (am raising my daughter by myself) and I don’t know or can suggest a location. All I can say is that it is more likely for me to attend if the meeting is somewhere south of Hartford. FYI-there is a Ct. Chapter of Parents Across America that is meeting in New Haven sometime in early September–probably will be a number of like minded people there. You can get contact info via facebook.com.

          I would appreciate any minutes or brief note about your Manchester meeting via email: [email protected]       Thanks.

        • Linda174

          Yes, many of us are attending PAA in September in New Haven. I will send you the notes from our last meeting. Let’s stay in touch. You can always bring your daughter. We will take turns entertaining and watching her.

  • Jeff Klaus

    Jon, don’t be so down in the dumps! Here is a great article that is sure to cheer you and your followers up!  Public education student success!

  • Linda174
  • Sue

    We have a paraprofessional who still doesn’t know where she will be placed until the beginning of school.

    I’ve never had the privilege of working with a more conscientious individual in my life. Only a few know what sacrifices she makes in her life to do what she does, and the influence she has on the students, all of who adore her.

  • Castles Burning

    I like this piece as it reminds us that we need justice for all.

    I was shocked, though, at the actual wages paid.  How do schools get away with that?  My students in Bridgeport I believe, earn almost $10/hr for after school jobs.

  • Bronx

     Wow Jeff Klaus is back to be a cheerleader for his wife Dacia Toll’s Achievement First!!!…We missed you Jeff…Perhaps you should learn to wear the pants in the family instead of waving those pom poms all the time…kind of emasculating I would think.  Perhaps the management fee your wife extracts from Elm City Preparatory School makes it all worthwhile…nice fat bank accounts make people do shameless things I guess…

  • Bill Morrison

    This is something else that Adamowski did in Hartford; he cut IA positions. My school currently has approximately 460 students, of whom approximately 130 are special needs. We have four Special Ed teachers and three IA’s. We need more.