ESP Issues


Privatization threatens quality public education by severing the school-community link. Learn more about why it’s a bad idea and learn what we can do to combat it.

ESEA and Paraprofessionals

The most recent reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), officially called “The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001,” is far more specific than past versions of the law.  The law’s provisions about testing, accountability and teacher and paraprofessional quality will have a great impact on NEA members. Learn more about how the law affects ESPs.

ESPS Deserve a Living Wage

Attracting and retaining qualified school staff — K-12 teachers, higher education faculty, and education support professionals (ESPs) — requires salaries that are competitive with those in comparable professions. NEA supports a minimum salary of at least $40,000 for all teachers in our nation’s public schools and at least a living wage for every education support professional. NEA also supports higher compensation for higher education faculty and staff. Learn more about living wage campaigns.

Custodial Issues

Budget pressures, aging buildings, school violence, privatization, safety and health concerns – there are a lot of forces having an impact on school custodians. Learn more about what custodians face on the job, and find resources to help do the job better.

Seat Belts, School Buses and Safety

At first blush, the question of whether seat belts should be required on school buses seems obvious. Seat belts save lives in cars, so it seems logical that they would make school buses safer. But it turns out that the question isn’t so simple. Read more about this hot issue.

Results-Oriented Job Descriptions

Currently, job descriptions for too many Educational Support Personnel are inaccurate, dictated without employee involvement, or nonexistent. A new approach, results-oriented job descriptions (ROJDs), can help ESPs achieve recognition of the vital roles they pay, respect for their professionalism, job security, and equitable pay. Learn more about ROJDs in these two NEA publications:

Results-Oriented Job Descriptions describes this new approach to ESP job descriptions.
Results-Oriented Job Descriptions: How Paraeducators Help Students Achieve outlines the process by which new ROJDs can be written to accurately portray paraeducators’ jobs.

Sick Buildings

School buildings have unique features which make them especially prone to indoor air quality (IAQ) problems and “sick building syndrome”:

  • Age of buildings: In the U.S., nearly 90% of schools were built before 1980, and 50% prior to 1960. Although indoor air quality problems can occur in any old or new building, increased risks in older buildings may be due to outdated ventilation systems and older roofs that may leak.
  • Lack of money for renovation and maintenance: Many school districts cannot afford to complete regular maintenance procedures and renovations on older equipment. Failure to do so may provide a catalyst for increased problems with ventilation systems, roofs, and other areas of school buildings.
  • Overcrowding: Almost one-fifth of Americans spend their days in schools. A typical school has four times as many occupants per square foot as an office building. With increased student populations, many schools are overcrowded, with ventilation systems that were not designed to accommodate the high numbers of people occupying the building.

ESPs are the principal people responsible for maintaining buildings to avoid these problems, and for dealing with them when they arise. NEA’s Health Information Network has assembled an extensive set of resources for understanding and addressing IAQ problems in HIN’s Indoor Air Quality pages.