It is no secret that the education system is struggling. Teacher shortages exist nationwide. In many schools, low salaries and low morale run rampant. It’s difficult for schools to find teachers as well as paraprofessionals. Seasoned educators know the necessity of good support staff, yet most paraprofessionals barely make minimum wage. Paraprofessionals need higher salaries to stay in the education field in 2023. Salary.com reports:
“The average Title 1 paraprofessional salary in the United States is $30,992 as of June 26, 2023, but the salary range typically falls between $26,635 and $36,788.”
With low salaries and school stressors at an all-time high, paraprofessionals are leaving the education field for easier work that pays more. And can we blame them?
Here are the top 5 reasons paraprofessionals need higher salaries in 2023:
1. Paraprofessionals help prevent teacher burnout.
Paraprofessionals often assist students on a 1:1 level while the teacher leads the whole class. Ask any teacher you know what it is like on a day that paraprofessionals in their building are unavailable. Their answer will be similar to utter chaos. Of course, teachers make do on the days support staff is unavailable, but everyone benefits when another adult is present to help students. Paras are essential because teachers cannot physically be in 20 places at one time. It’s exhausting trying to help every child simultaneously. Keeping good paraprofessionals in classrooms is crucial to preventing teacher burnout, and they need higher pay to make them want stay.
2. Paraprofessionals are responsible for some of the most difficult and thankless tasks.
Paraprofessionals support students on a personal level. They manage student behavior, run interventions, and supervise recess or lunchtime. Sometimes they help students with personal care if needed. The list of duties a para may help with is endless, including bus duty and special assignments like medical support for specific students. A para’s job is on the go, always on their feet with high energy all day long. At the end of a long day, it is nice to be appreciated by coworkers, but appreciation doesn’t pay the bills.
3. Paras have their own families to care for.
Especially with current cost-of-living expenses, $30,000 or less a year is not a reasonable amount of money to support a family. Many paraprofessionals work multiple jobs to make ends meet. It is difficult to perform well in the workplace when under high financial stress, which in turn affects students. Paras spend their days supporting students and they deserve higher salaries to support their own families.
4. They participate in education training alongside teachers.
Paraprofessionals attend continuing education training hours and often attend staff meetings alongside teachers. They become experts in working with kids. School districts hoping to keep highly trained paras should pay them fairly for their time and knowledge in the field.
5. It is necessary to support the people who support our students.
Not only are paraprofessionals underpaid, they miss out on paid work time on snow days or sick days. They also often do not receive the same insurance benefits that teachers get. Quality health insurance and paid sick time should not be optional for any school staff member. Our education system relies on paraprofessionals to support students, which means the paras need their basic health needs met.
The field of education can be rewarding in itself. There is nothing quite like teaching children. Yet, making a livable wage is crucial to keeping high-quality paraprofessionals in the field. Higher salaries for paraprofessionals are a worthy investment, even as school budgets run thin. Support staff will always be vital to the education system. It is time that paraprofessionals start getting paid what they are worth before there is no support staff left.
What are your thoughts about supporting paraprofessionals? Let us know in the comments.
Looking for more articles like this? Be sure to subscribe to our newsletters to find out when they’re posted!