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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

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Biden administration moves to protect Alaska wilderness; opening statements and first witness in NY trial; SCOTUS hears Starbucks case, with implications for unions on the line; rural North Carolina town gets pathway to home ownership.

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The Supreme Court weighs cities ability to manage a growing homelessness crisis, anti-Israeli protests spread to college campuses nationwide, and more states consider legislation to ban firearms at voting sites and ballot drop boxes.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

MA public school support staff fight for a living wage

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Monday, February 5, 2024   

Lawmakers in Massachusetts are considering legislation to ensure Education Support Professionals in public schools earn a living wage.

ESP's do it all - teach, help students with special needs, clean classrooms and more. The bill would set a statewide salary of $45,000 for these workers.

Former Massachusetts ESP of the Year Joni Cederholm of Weymouth said it would change thousands of lives. After more than 25 years working, she brings home just $300 a week.

"We get poverty pay. We are in the poverty line," said Cederholm. "We're not even making enough money to live in our own communities where our own children go."

Cederholm said ESPs are taking on larger roles in students' social-emotional and academic learning, as well as discipline. She added too often, low pay is forcing educators to leave the profession and the students they care for.

Support staff across the Commonwealth have created a "Bill of Rights" to help them organize for better pay and benefits.

Organizers say ESPs in some districts often receive $0 paychecks due to the high cost of health insurance, while others take on additional jobs or visit food banks to survive.

Cederholm said an increase in pay is the only way to retain quality educators and improve public schools.

"One job should be enough," said Cederholm. "We shouldn't have to work three jobs and go to work exhausted in order to get ready for the next day to do two more jobs to live in our communities."

U.S Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., has also introduced legislation to provide living wages and benefits for ESPs, bus drivers, custodial workers, and others who help keep schools running.

Cederholm said she hopes parents will get a better understanding of the value these people bring to their child's learning experience - and support their campaign for better pay.



Disclosure: Massachusetts Teachers Association contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Children's Issues, Civic Engagement, Education. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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