Press Releases

Kuster Introduces Bipartisan Legislation To Support Paraeducators

**The more than 1.2 million paraeducators across the country are the backbone of our schools, often acting as informal social workers, mentors, or coaches to students**


Washington, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) introduced the Preparing and Retaining All (PARA) Educators Act, bipartisan legislation to help recruit and retain paraeducators in our schools and educate students with barriers to learning. Paraeducators include teachers' aids, instructional assistants, and other in-class support who work with a variety of students. Although paraeducators play an important role in our classrooms, they continue to be underpaid and undervalued in our education system. Kuster’s legislation would help keep paraeducators in the classroom and ensure they have the support they need to thrive.


Full bill text is available here.


“Every day, in classrooms here in New Hampshire and across the country, paraeducators are working with students to help them receive a high-quality education and thrive in school,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-NH). “Yet, these instructional assistants continue to be undervalued and underpaid. My legislation takes meaningful steps to change that and gives these hardworking educators the support they need to stay in the classroom and help students succeed. I’m proud to introduce this bill today and encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to help get this over the finish line.”


“As staunch advocates for quality education, we wholeheartedly support the PARA Educators Act. By directing funding to states and school districts, we can actively address the critical need for paraprofessionals in our public preschool programs, elementary schools, and secondary schools,” said Congresswoman Nancy Mace (R-SC). “This legislation will not only enhance the learning experience for our students but also provide valuable career opportunities for dedicated individuals passionate about education. Investing in the recruitment and retention of paraprofessionals is a vital step toward ensuring every child has access to a high-quality education."


“We commend Representative Kuster for her unwavering commitment to improving education in our state and for recognizing the vital role paraeducators play in our classrooms," stated Megan Tuttle, President of NEA-NH. "The PARA Educators Act is a significant step towards addressing the dire shortage in these critical positions our members are seeing in schools across New Hampshire. Paraeducators, also known as teaching assistants or instructional aides, play a crucial role in our schools by assisting teachers and providing individualized attention to students. They work tirelessly to create a nurturing and inclusive learning environment, empowering students to reach their full potential.”


The PARA Educators Act establishes a grant program under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education to support the recruitment and retention of paraprofessionals in public preschool programs, elementary and secondary schools. This legislation will: 

  1. Provide funding to support state and district efforts to recruit and retain paraprofessionals.  
  2. Prioritize high-need rural and urban areas to ensure grant funding is equitably distributed. 
  3. Provide paraprofessionals with access to high-quality professional development programs needed to educate all students and advance in their careers. 


Kuster’s bipartisan legislation has 26 original cosponsors, including Representatives Mace (R-SC), Moulton (D-MA), Pingree (D-ME), Kilmer (D-WA), Carson (D-IN), Stevens (D-MI), Trone (D-MD), Gottheimer (D-NJ), Ross (D-NC), Sewell (D-AL), Davis (D-NC), Mullin (D-CA), Norton (D-DC), Cleaver (D-MO), Moore (D-WI), Porter (D-CA), Pocan (D-WI), Thompson (D-MS), Garcia (D-IL), Jackson (D-IL), Crockett (D-TX), Cleaver (D-MO), Clarke (D-NY), Kildee (D-MI), Chu (D-CA), and Titus (D-NV).


The bill is also endorsed by the NH School Board Association, NH Special Education Administrators, New Hampshire NEA, New Hampshire Association of School Principals, AASA, The School Superintendents Association, AESA, Association of Educational Service Agencies, the Council of Administrators of Special Education, National Education Association (NEA), American Federation of Teachers, School Board Association, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Down Syndrome Congress, Council for Exceptional Children, TeachPlus, National Center for Learning Disabilities, Learning Disabilities Association of America, Autism Society of America, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), First Focus Campaign for Children, Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network, National Parent Teacher Association, Access Ready, The Education Trust, National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), and The Arc of the United States.


Statements in support of this legislation:

“Paraprofessionals play a vital role in students’ learning, but their work is tremendously undervalued and underappreciated, leading to significant workforce shortages and challenges in filling vacant positions. Rep. Annie Kuster’s Preparing and Retaining All (PARA) Educators Act aims to reduce the educator shortage and provides much-needed support for paraprofessionals and school staff to continue to best serve our students—especially those needing additional support. Through the PARA Educators Act’s grant program, school districts can address key concerns among paraprofessionals, such as inadequate pay and a lack of respect and support, which will help them attract people to the profession. Paraprofessionals are essential, and it is well past time to celebrate and compensate them fairly for their work” said Randi Weingarten, AFT President. 

“The New Hampshire Association of Special Education Administrators is pleased to endorse the PARA Educators Act," said Jane Bergeron-Beaulieu, Executive Director, New Hampshire Association of Special Education Administrators. "Paraprofessionals play a critical role in in NH’s educational communities and help to strengthen inclusive classrooms. This legislation is so important as paraeducators are a critical shortage area for our state.”  

“Paraeducators are an essential part of any school, providing critical support to both teachers and students. Unfortunately, like many other school staff positions, districts across the country are struggling to find qualified individuals to fill these roles,” said David Schuler, Executive Director, AASA, The School Superintendents Association. “The PARA Educators Act would provide resources for districts to address the recruitment, training and retention of paraprofessionals who are indispensable to the success of schools, and more importantly, students. We appreciate Congresswoman Kuster’s leadership on this issue.”

“The Division for Learning Disabilities (DLD) was among the first organizations to endorse evidence-based practice and continues to support the use of methods and materials that have substantial research foundations," said Elizabeth Zagata, Public Policy Chair, Division for Learning Disabilities, Council for Exceptional Children. "We believe ALL educators should be prepared to use effective instructional practices to support student learning. Preparing and valuing our paraprofessionals is key to retaining them in these essential roles. The Preparing and Retaining All (PARA) Educators Act is a needed support in our schools so that our paraprofessionals feel empowered and prepared to be leaders in the classroom.” 

“Paraeducators serve as keystones of our school systems but go without living wages or the necessary professional development to support their instruction and career pathways,” says Dr. Jacqueline Rodriguez, CEO, National Center for Learning Disabilities. “This is a critical profession, and our paraeducators ensure students—especially those with learning disabilities—receive a quality education. NCLD commends Congresswoman Kuster for introducing the PARA Educators Act to address these vital issues within the educator workforce.”