Guest Column: Rockford public schools: Para parity
By Jane Hayes
Paras, or paraprofessionals, are invaluable classroom aids throughout Rockford Public School District 205. They receive salaries that are tragically low for what they accomplish for students.
Many of them work with the most challenging of students with aplomb and assurance that they can make a difference in the world of a child. Parity, or valued equality, should be extended to these hard-working employees.
At a recent Rockford Board of Education meeting, a concerned para spoke before the school board and asked the board to walk in her shoes. She had the good sense to make sure the board members and administrators were giving her their full attention before proceeding by saying: “Just as I tell my students in the classroom, I will wait until you all give me your full attention before I go on.” Sounds as if she caught them in the act of being discourteous!
One would hope she had all eyes and ears after that, but why should she have had to resort to that? Apparently, because of their insolence and bad manners she had to berate them. Board members and administrators forget how their body language and whispering among themselves distract the speaker at the podium. Watch them closely at board meetings in the future.
This particular paraprofessional continued her 2-minute speech by saying she also wants to feed her children and dreams of a time when she can send her children to college as well, not however, on her meager salary. Now, the district is asking them to increase their insurance copays! This is a prohibitive expense to our employees, who make so little. Often, they have to resort to public aid as well because of their despicably low salaries.
Such extreme mercenary tactics are inexcusable in this district with an abundance of six-figured salaries at the top, those who have the best of insurance and benefits. Elitism reigns supreme in the dream team on Seventh Street! That’s why they needed to buy a bank building to support their spacious offices, lifestyles and image.
Our district paraprofessionals deserve livable wages and fair health care. Is that asking too much for those who give so much to this district?
Just heard another concern …
There are rumblings that our school board will be asked to support Alignment Rockford, a local business-driven organization that has ties to many board members. If so, how does this compute for the taxpayers, who in good faith believe school funding should be for students, staff and schools?
As concerned citizens and taxpayers, get informed with how your exorbitant property taxes are being used or abused. Please familiarize yourselves with the following website: Watch the Corruption in School District 205 (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Watchthecorruption/383906948371091)!
Jane Hayes is a member of Watchdogs for Ethics in Education and Rockford Educators Advocating Civil Treatment.
From the July 17-23, 2013, issue