The following is a company-submitted press release and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of School Planning & Management magazine.

Senate Approves Bill Recognizing Education Support Professionals and Classified School Employees

Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Senate today approved the Recognizing Achievement in Classified School Employees Act (H.R. 276), legislation that provides long-overdue recognition for the outstanding contributions of education support professionals and classified school employees to the nation’s public schools and the students they serve. The legislation directs the U.S. Secretary of Education to establish a national award program recognizing the excellence exhibited by public school system employees who provide services to students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12. The National Education Association already annually recognizes such educators with its prestigious Education Support Professionals (ESP) of the Year award.

"Education support professionals are an integral part of the nation’s public education system and the more than 50 million students it serves," said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. "They often are the first in the building and the last to leave. They promote student achievement, ensure student safety, and contribute to the establishment and promotion of a positive instructional environment every day."

"Our school support staff are fully committed to student success," said Matthew Powell, the 2019 NEA ESP of the Year, and a custodial supervisor, special events bus driver, and night watchman at Central Elementary School in Mayfield, Kentucky. "Although they seldom seek the spotlight, I am pleased this national award will increase the awareness of the important roles they play because our ESPs have a depth of knowledge and experience that, when paired with their hearts for students, can make a tremendous and positive difference."

There are almost 3 million classified education support employees in our nation’s public schools, colleges, and universities and they make up one-third of the public education workforce.

"Whether driving a bus, working a computer lab, assisting a teacher in the classroom, serving lunch to students, or making sure the building is clean and healthy, they work hard every day knowing the important role they play in creating learning environments that help students reach their fullest potential. They are the gears that keep school operations moving," continued Eskelsen García.

"After many years by educators of advocating for such a national award, Congress is right to recognize the unsung and often unseen heroes of the education professions – education support professionals and classified school employees. In particular, we thank Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) for sponsoring the bill as well as the members from both sides of the political aisle of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. This long-overdue bill appropriately respects and rightly acknowledges the hard work, dedication, skills, and expertise of our ESPs," concluded Eskelsen García.

Of NEA’s 3 million members, almost 500,000 are Education Support Professionals represented in the following nine career families:

  • Clerical services
  • Custodial and maintenance services
  • Food services
  • Health and student services
  • Paraeducators
  • Security services
  • Skilled trade services
  • Technical services
  • Transportation services

For more information on education support professionals, visit: www.nea.org/ESP.

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