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ESPs: Organizing & Advocacy

ESP Issues


ESPs are among the first line of defense in the fight against school bullying. Learn more about NEA's campaign against bullying“Bully Free, It Starts With Me,” which is signing up caring adults who pledge to help bullied students and to take action to stop bullying. To read about ESP work on this issue, go to Safe Schools Start with ESPs .

NEA has been out in front on the bullying issue for years. Our first-of-a kind, large scale research study examines different school staff members’ perspectives on bullying and bullying prevention efforts. To view a complete copy of these findings click here.

Also Available:
2010-2012 Bullying Prevention Contrasting Survey Responses ( 44 page)
Nationwide Bullying Reserch Findings ( 58 page)
Bullying Research Brief ( 1 page)
Bullying Research Summary( 3 pages)
Bus Drivers and Bullying Prevention Brief ( 4 pages)
Paraeducators and Student-to-Student Bullying ( 4 pages)
Food Service ESPs and Bullying Prevention ( 4 pages)
Clerical Services/Administrative ESPs and Bullying Prevention ( 4 pages) 
Health and Student Services ESP Bullying Prevention ( 4 pages)
Custodial and Maintenance Services Bullying Prevention ( 4 pages)
Technical Services ESPs Bullying Prevention ( 4 pages)
Security Services ESPs Bullying Prevention ( 4 pages)
Skilled Trades Services ESPs Bullying Prevention ( 4 pages)

Additional Web Resources:
Education Week Spotlight: Bullying, School Improvement, Personalized Learning 

NEW: Online Materials Available for Training School Bus Drivers About Bullying

The Department of Education (DOE) has developed a terrific new training packet to educate drivers on how to deal with bullying behavior on their school buses and how to create a safe and supportive climate that helps prevent bullying. Two 2-hour modules, complete with power point presentations, scripts, handouts and other supporting materials, were developed by the DOE’s Safe and Supportive Schools Training and Technical Assistance Center. Module 1, See Something, Do Something: Intervening in Bullying Behavior, is designed to equip school bus drivers to recognize and effectively deal with bullying behavior.  Module 2, Creating a Supportive Bus Climate: Preventing Bullying, will teach simple, concrete strategies to build positive, supportive relationships on the school bus. In addition to the training materials (halfway down the page), this site has links to other information presented on the day the training was rolled out. To access the page to download these modules, click here

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, in the Custodial Issues section.

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. Our ESEA and Paraprofessionals area outlines how the new law affects ESPs, and includes downloadable resources.


Having a healthy and nutritious school meal is the right of every student. ESPs are on the frontline in helping to address this issue that is threatening the life expectancy of our nation's youth. New standards for school meals were released on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through legislation championed by First Lady Michelle Obama. NEA has partnered with the Let's Move initiative and many other organizations in the fight against childhood obesity.  

For more information on NEA's involvement in the nutrition initiative visit NEA's Child Nutrition area. You can also review the Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010 summary for information on how the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act will end childhood hunger and reduce obesity. We have also made available a new HHFKA Q&A Fact Sheet that contains answers to basic questions about the new school food service professional standards.

Grant Resources: Nutrition Grants  (3 pgs)

Additional Resources: Let's Move Initiative, Safe at School and Ready to Learn: A Comprehensive Policy Guide for Protecting Students with Life-threatening Food Allergies, School Lunch Hero Day 


Privatization threatens quality public education by severing the school-community link. Find out why it's a bad idea and learn what we can do to combat it. The Privatization area on offers more on these concerns.

Professional Pay for Professionals

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.

For more information about living wage campaigns, and other efforts to obtain professional pay levels for all educators, go to "ESPs Deserve a Living Wage" in the Professional Pay area.

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.

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 in Seat Belts, School Buses and Safety.

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.