On Monday, February 15, the State Senate passed legislation that would provide a career path and improved training for paraeducators by a near-unanimous vote. This landmark legislation was prime sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Andy Hill (Redmond) and in the House by Rep. Steve Bergquist (Renton). This bill is the result of thorough recommendations from the Paraeducator Workgroup that worked over the past year to develop the framework for it. The Workgroup included teachers, paraeducators, administrators, parents, policy experts and state officials.
There are over 25,000 paraeducators currently working in our schools under the supervision of classroom teachers. These paraeducators provide over half of all instructional time to students who need extra assistance or specialized instruction, such as those receiving Title I Services, English language learners, and students in special education. Currently, there are no minimum employment standards or training requirements to ensure paraeducators are equipped with the skills necessary to support these students.
When we provide training, supports and a career path for paraeductors, we are directly impacting in a positive way the educational outcomes for students in the opportunity gap. As the parent of a child with autism, I’ve seen firsthand the remarkable work of paraeducators. Because of their dedication, my son and so many children like him have been able to learn and thrive in their school and in settings that were otherwise not an option for them. It’s time for our state to provide these dedicated professionals with the support they need and deserve.
The House Education Committee takes up the bill on Monday, Feb. 22. We urge you to contact these legislators, especially those from your district, today or over the weekend to express your support for the bill. If you’re not sure what to say, we’ve included a sample message below. Personal stories are always the most powerful, so please include those as well.
Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos (email: [email protected])
Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self (email: [email protected])
Rep. Chris Reykdal (email: [email protected])
Rep. Sam Hunt (email: [email protected])
Rep. Christine Kilduff (email: [email protected])
Rep. Patty Kuderer (email: [email protected])
Rep. Tina Orwall (email: [email protected])
Rep. Gerry Pollett (email: [email protected])
Rep. JD Rossetti (email [email protected])
Rep. Larry Springer (email: [email protected])
Subject: Please support SSB 6408
Washington public schools depend on 25,000+ paraeducators to provide over half of all instruction time to several hundred thousand students. Those students are some of Washington’s most vulnerable learners, including those receiving Title 1 Services, English Language Learners, and students receiving Special Education Services. Currently, there are no minimum employment standards or training requirements to ensure paraeducators are equipped with the skills necessary to support these students who need additional assistance. SSB 6408 takes the thoughtful and thorough recommendations from the Paraeducator workgroup and puts a structure in place to ensure our most vulnerable learners have an equitable opportunity for success in Washington schools.
Please support SSB 6408. It is time to create professional standards and a training program for paraeducators.