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www.nea.orgespEDUCATIONSUPPORTPROFESSIONALSMeetingtheNeedsoftheWholeStudent34theyearwhenschoolisoutofsession.MikeHornerfromtheWashingtonEd-ucationAssociationunderscoredthatYakimaESPsknewtheycouldbemakingahighersalaryworkingoutsideofeduca-tionbutchosetostaybecausetheyloveworkingwithkids.Itsgreattheylovewhattheydobuttheystillhavearighttolive.AccordingtoHornertheYakimaschooldistricthasmanystudentswholiveinpoverty.Withahighnumberofchildrenwithspecialneedsandmanystudentswhomaygettheironlymealsofthedayatschooladedicatedsupportstaffisthatmuchmoreessential.ButlastyearinationandyearswithoutapayraiseleftYakimaESPsnotevenmakingapoverty-levelwage.Obtain-inganactuallivingwageseemednearlyimpossibletoBuffyPhillipsaYakimaESPwhowasonthedistrictsbargainingteam.Theressuchatremendousloveforthestudentsandtheprideindoingthatandyettheresthefearathome.HowamIgoingtobuythegroceriesWhereamIgoingtogoYakimaESPsincoordinationwithWashingtonEducationAssociationbeganalivingwagecampaignbymakingcommu-nitymembersawareofjusthowfarbehindESPspaywascomparedwiththewagesneededtoliveinYakima.WestartedwiththestoriesourstoriessaidPhillips.Therewereiershandedoutatfootballgames.Wewenttoneighborhoodstoletthecommunityknowwhatwasgoingonwithourdistrict.TheyalsoemphasizedthecrucialroleESPsplayinstudentsschoolexperienceandintheircommunity.Thinkofthebusdriverthisisthepersonthatpicksachildupanddropsthemoff.Thatsecretarytheclericalworkerknowsthefamiliesknowsthosekidstheirmomstheirdads.Thecafeteriaworkersknowaboutwhogetsfedornot.Theyknowthesechildrenbetterthananyadministratorordirector.Theyshouldreallybepaidmore.Theycareforhundredsofkids.Itisadisservicetopubliceducationwhenwedontsup-portthemsaidPhillips.InYakimathankstothecollectiveactionoftheESPsthebasepayisnow13.68anhour.Itsanhonestthingwereafter.Moremoneyforourfamiliesmoremon-eyinourpocketssaidKristieMaxwellaclassroomparaeducator.Wedidntde-servetobepoverty-levelpeople.IworkhardalldaywithmykidsandIdeservedmylivingwage.Beingwholealsomeansfeelingsafeandforworkersthatmeanshavingjobsecurity.Unfortunatelymanydistrictshaveconvertedtoorareconsideringprivatizingorcontractingoutmanyeducationservicesintothehandsofprivatefor-protcorporations.Whilemostoftheattentionhasbeenonthetraditionallycontracted-outjobcategoriesoftransportationcustodialandfoodservicesnoESPjobsaresafe.Districtsoftencontractoutbecauseprivatecontractorsnearlyalwayspromisecostsavingsalthoughtheyrarelydeliver.Bidsoftendonottakeintoaccountallthecostsinvolvedandcontractorsmaylow-ballinitialbidstowinacontractwithcostsrisingsignicantlyastimegoeson.AndthereismoretotheworkofESPsthanjustcostsandmuchmoreatstakewhenjobsarecontractedoutthequalityofeducationandeventhesafetyofourchildrencanbeatrisk.Privatecontrac-torsmaybringinstrangersfromoutsidethecommunitywithnoconnectiontothestudentsandfamiliestheyserveandcost-cuttingcanthreatenstudentandemployeehealthandsafety.DefeatingprivatizationbeginswitheducatingschoolboardsparentsandourcommunitiesaboutthevitalrolesESPs