Paraeducators and IDEA 2004: Examining Compensation Issues
Why This Topic Is Important to Paraeducators
As states enhance the training requirements for paraeducators under IDEA 2004, the financial impact of those requirements on paraeducators should be addressed. The following questions must be answered:
- Who is going to assume the costs associated with the training?
- Will the additional qualifications provided paraeducators by professional development programs be recognized with increased compensation?
Financial recognition for professional growth is not a new concept in education. Compensation in areas compensated by IDEA 2004 must be dealt with at the state and local levels.
How to Advocate for Compensation in Areas Affected by IDEA 2004
IDEA 2004 emphasizes the importance of appropriate preparation and training, but does not specifically address compensation for paraeducators in these areas. You may need to advocate for compensation. When negotiating and/or advocating with school boards and/or building teams, make sure that you have stressed the importance that IDEA 2004 assigns to training in supporting achievement for students with disabilities. Encourage your state and local Association to help you advocate and/or negotiate for appropriate compensation.
What can you do to help make sure that IDEA 2004 is implemented in your state in a manner that is good for you, your students, and your school? What can you do to help others understand and acknowledge the importance of providing compensation in areas affected by IDEA 2004?
The suggested activities that follow are intended to be coordinated with the assistance of your local Association and UniServ staff. Study the activities below and discuss them with your colleagues, local Association leadership, and UniServ staff. With the assistance of your local and/or state Association leaders and staff, develop an action plan to promote appropriate compensation for paraeducators.
Negotiating Compensation— Advocacy Activities to be Coordinated with Local Association Leadership
Negotiate and/or advocate for paraeducator compensation with the school district.
- Insist that paraeducators are paid for time spent in training.
- Encourage school districts to offer training programs at no cost to paraeducators.
- Consider asking for additional compensation based on the amount of training you have completed.
- Recommend that new training requirements be phased in, so that current employees have time to meet the requirements.
- Identify the types of professional development training (e.g., experience, on-the-job, inservice, college, technical course work, etc.) that will qualify for additional compensation.
Suggesting Funding Sources— Advocacy Activities to be Coordinated with Local Association Leadership
Make sure that school district administrators are aware of possible funding opportunities in the state that can be used to provide training for paraeducators.
- Encourage the school district to find out if the state department of education or state board of education has applied for and received a federal State Personnel Development Grant. If your state has received one of these grants, request that local leaders ask in writing how much money was awarded and how much money will be used specifically for the training of paraeducators.
- Ask school district officials to encourage the state department of education or state board of education to prepare a State Personnel Development Grant that includes training for paraeducators.
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