The Paraeducator Dilemna- on Making a Living Wage

One of the most popular posts on our site is a discussion started by a para from Sioux City, Iowa asking what paraeducators make in different states. The 100 replies to that question show that there is a lot of interest in that area. If you enjoyed that discussion you will likely also appreciate a recent article titled The Paraeducator Dilemma about paraeducators in Yakima, Washington fighting for a living wage.

The entire article provides a great overview of the work that paraeducators do and some of the struggles that they face. Here are a few quotes to whet your appetite:

From Heidi Mann:

"At MLK, the teachers treat us like equals," Mann says. "We're not saying we are equal to them. But I'd say we're at least worth half of what they make."

One of the most popular posts on our site is a discussion started by a para from Sioux City, Iowa asking what paraeducators make in different states. The 100 replies to that question show that there is a lot of interest in that area. If you enjoyed that discussion you will likely also appreciate a recent article titled The Paraeducator Dilemma about paraeducators in Yakima, Washington fighting for a living wage.

The entire article provides a great overview of the work that paraeducators do and some of the struggles that they face. Here are a few quotes to whet your appetite:

From Heidi Mann:

"At MLK, the teachers treat us like equals," Mann says. "We're not saying we are equal to them. But I'd say we're at least worth half of what they make."

On working for a living wage:

While they're taking care of other people's children on the playground and in the school cafeteria, many paraeducators struggle to provide for their own children. Many of their children qualify to receive free or reduced lunch in the district for which they work.

"As far as we understand, we are the lowest-paid unit in the district, and we are the ones who are teaching in the classrooms," (Buffy) Phillips says. "We're not asking to be paid like the teachers are paid. We just need enough to live on."

On the work that paras do:

Paraeducators supervise children on the playground, in the lunchroom and classroom, and before and after school. They tutor students in math. They help children learn to read. They lead small groups. And while they don't craft lesson plans, paraeducators do help teach the lessons.

"I just really could not do my job without them," says Joan Kirk, a special education teacher at Gilbert Elementary School. "We're a team."

Does anything in the article sound familiar to you?

The Paraeducator Dilemma from the Yakima Herald

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17 Comments

what paraeducators make in different states

I have been a paraeducator for 15 years now and it has taken ths long to finally have my district make a distinction in pay between those of us who have continuing education (associates degree +) and those of us with high school diplomas. Someone entering the district in the recent past would be making the same amount starting out as I am making with 15 years experience. Mind you, the wage is barely livable in my state, New Jersey, but because I absolutely love my job, I'll take what I can get. At the moment the top of the scale is $17.00/hr as opposed to the $14.25 I was getting.

What Paraeducators made in different states

I sure would like to know what the cost of living is for New Jersey because in Georgia we dont make that much

Teresa Thomason
Go Center/CIT/ESS Paraprofessional
Southeast Whitfield High School
Dalton, Ga
706-876-7150

what is a living wage?

I truly love my job as well. I work as a one to one Para Professional in Parsippany, NJ. I don't know how much longer I will be able to contune to stay here. $18,077 is not a living wage in Morris County. I have lived here for 30 years. My husband is now unemployed. I have worked in the district for 22 years with no health benefits. Paraprofessional here work 8:30 to 3:30. I don't mind working hard and doing whatever is needed to make learning easier for our students,We are expected to be highly quilfied. We took the required Praxas exam and passed. We contune to take courses when something is available. ( on or own time and our own money.) and maybe a couple of times a year the District will provide some training. There is no compentation for our experence and contuned education. I know I am good at what I do. I make things happen.
We are the only group in the district with no health benefits and are the lowest paid. Taxes on my home are almost $11,000 a year. How do we get the compensation we have earned.

Nancy Prail

Wow, that is crappy pay. I

Wow, that is crappy pay. I make $16.97 up in Alaska, and this is my first year doing it. And I only have a high school diploma.

Paraeducators

In Wisconin...we don't make that much either...I have an Advanced Assoc. of Science in Instructional Assistance..it doesn't matter, I make less $13,000 a YEAR! Other districts make more, and still hire full time...mine, nope....I was hired at 6 hours 4 years ago, they are "weeding out" full time, and won't hire anymore full time...we are "easlity" replaced! Its sad, really sad...it's a good things we don't do this for the money, because there isn't any.

Para Wages

I work in a small school district, Sigourney, Iowa. After years of bargaining we Paras now make $.25 more per hour than an associate. I have worked in the school district for 16 years. I make $12.30 per hour, have single coverage insurance,15 sick days per year that can carry over up to 100 days, 3 personal days per year, and receive IPERS. I am interested to know how we measure up to other schools. I hope to hear some updated information from a lot of paras.

Pretty Satisfied

Working as a para educator has always given me total satisfaction. I am doing this job not only for the income, it's just because i just love kids and to be with them. As i am very much satisfied with pay i am getting from this kind of job too.
School Playground Equipment

I live in Ct and every city

I live in Ct and every city has different pay for there paraeducators. I work for Milford which the start pay is 11.00hr. but stratford the city one town over paids 16.88hr to start as a para. Every town or city is different.

Para educator

 I am a Paraeducator in the really only great school district in Louisiana, and after 5 years I make roughly 24,000 a year.

The pay is not great but but I feel like I am making a difference in Children's lives. I am under appreciated and under

valued daily  but feel its worth it. My family has great benefits and there worth what ever I have to put up with.

salaries for paras

Hello everyone,

I have been working in a specialized para role for the last 16 years, came to the district with a bachelor's degree, experience in education, recently completed all the course work for a masters in special education with all "A"s.  I do not make 26K. I could not afford to take out the health coverage and I have accumulated over 80 sick days.  The sad part of this is I truly enjoy what I do but do not enjoy the low salary and the drama with administration,budget cuts and salary freezes.  I am working on starting my own company to earn some additional income and take control of my destiny.  I am also working on starting a support group in my county for paraprofessionals so we can network and support each other.    Paras, we are important and laws need to be changed to reflect that.

Para Wages

I have a BS degree and am working as a Paraeducator in Marshalltown, Iowa in Pre-k, level 3 classroom and making 9.48/hr and cannot afford the benefits offered.  Sounds like we are very underpaid.

I have been a paraeducator

I have been a paraeducator since 1993 while living in one of the most expensive states to live in.  I make $15,147 which figures to be $13.94.  On top of that thanks to our Governor we recently lost one of most necessary benefits.  Effective July 1, 2012 our insurance is being changed with higher co-pays for every visit, prescriptions, now have a deductible and out of pocket maximum $4,000.00 for a family.  We will now have to pay $100 after a $750 deductible is met, for each MRI and other tests that a family member may require. Yes, this is happening town-wide, however ESPs are being hit the hardest because we make the lowest salaries.  The majority of us made this career choice a young mothers and grew to love it more and more each day.  Sure, we had school vacations and summers off with our own kids, but we also desperately needed the health insurance.  We didn't complain about the low salaries because we had such great benefits.  I for one, don't know how I will be able to afford all the extra medical bills that come with this new lower standard health insurance.

Massachusetts Low Wages

I have been a paraeducator since 1993 while living in one of the most expensive states to live in.  I make $15,147 which figures to be $13.94.  On top of that thanks to our Governor we recently lost one of most necessary benefits.  Effective July 1, 2012 our insurance is being changed with higher co-pays for every visit, prescriptions, now have a deductible and out of pocket maximum $4,000.00 for a family.  We will now have to pay $100 after a $750 deductible is met, for each MRI and other tests that a family member may require.Yes, this is happening town-wide, however ESPs are being hit the hardest because we make the lowest salaries.  The majority of us made this career choice a young mothers and grew to love it more and more each day.  Sure, we had school vacations and summers off with our own kids, but we also desperately needed the health insurance.  We didn't complain about the low salaries because we had such great benefits.  I for one, don't know how I will be able to afford all the extra medical bills that come with this new lower standard health insurance.

ParaPay

I am in Dearborn Heights, MI 15-20mins from Detroit at a Charter School that serves mostly bussed students from Detroit. I have full benefits and a salary of 26k. I have an associates but a min. of 90 credits are required as well as a state basic skills test which allows our paras the label of "Highly Qualified" After reading previous comments, I will no longer complain

kentucky

Ten years for me...get treated like pooooooo. only 9.50 here.

I have a BA, have no health

I have a BA, have no health benefits, and have been with my district (an upscale community outside of Los Angeles) for 6 years. I make just over $15 an hour. I keep getting more difficult students with serious issues and will never see a raise as I am at the top of the pay scale.

Is year-round pay unreasonable?

I've been a para for three years now, and making it through summer with no pay just about kills us every year. I live in a smaller than small town, but work in a small town and a small school district. I make less than $10,000 a year, and I love what I do, but I can't help that prices on food and gas keeps going up, but my pay doesn't cut it. I can't add just any part-time job to be schedule because I'm going to school part time, too. It seems to me that if they can make it so teachers get paid year-round, why can't the para's? My hourly pay is satisfactory, I feel, for what I do, but I need summer and holiday pay. Is it unreasonable to expect such from my school district for working as a para-pro?