Kuster Introduces Bipartisan Legislation To Support Paraeducators
Washington, July 11, 2023
Tags: Investing in Education
**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:
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.