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Friday, September 17, 2021

The district's lack of paras is a crisis.

 There are seventeen vacancies for paras at my school alone. Now my school is a center school, so we tend to have more, but I was told there were double-digit vacancies at all the center schools. Then if you look at the vacancies district-wide, the problem gets more and more severe. 

Any vacancy is troubling, but the consequences can be even more extreme when they happen at center schools. Classes lose coverage, behaviors become unmanageable, opportunities for violence soar, and an already overworked staff becomes more fragile and willing to quit. Part of the massive number of vacancies at my school results from people looking for other jobs elsewhere, and why wouldn’t they.  

The district says, if you have 60 credit hours or have passed the paraprofessional certification, you to can join our team where you can make 11 dollars and eighteen cents an hour where you can expect to change diapers, the chance of being assaulted is real, and help teach watered-down academics to students who don’t know their numbers or colors.  

At a recent training for learning arcs, a whole other story, the high school standard we picked to decode was an algebra one that included graphing and slopes. Um, any student capable of learning even a watered-down version of algebra and slopes shouldn’t be at a center school in the first place, but rather than teaching, life, personal and coping skills the powers that be, and I a not looking at my school administration but the politicians in Tallahassee, think somehow that is appropriate. 

Now there was a time when we didn’t do nearly enough with our disabled students, but the pendulum has gone way too far the other way, and I digress, and I guess all of this is a whole different story too. 

We will not solve the mystery of the missing para, sorry hundreds of unfilled positions, by doing what we are doing. 

Why would anyone want to work for 11.18 and have to wipe butts and potentially get hit when Walmart, Amazon, and so many other places are paying a fair amount more, and those things and unrealistic expectations don’t come up.  

Fifteen dollars should be the minimum, and where I usually am, all for more education and certification, we desperately need bodies. When we get them in the door, we need to give them a week of training, maybe two, before we put them in the classroom because one way to lose someone quickly is just to throw them in the deep end.   

Now I imagine some people might be asking where the district would get the money to pay for this increase. The answer is a couple places. Since the referendum kicked in, the district should have about 500k a month it isn’t spending on emergency maintenance. The state is sitting on billions in extra education funding that, for whatever specious reason, they aren’t sending to districts. Worse, there are billions more Florida could apply for but have chosen not to, and then it's past time we demanded Florida appropriately fund education. When you factor in inflation, we aren’t even at 2007 levels of funding.     

What’s happening is an unmitigated disaster. There is no way to sugarcoat this, and instead of pretending there isn’t a problem, the district's current strategy, they should do something.  

 To learn more, click the link.

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