Time to Get Involved
Education Support Professionals know only too well that when budgets get tight, the first place districts look to make cuts is among their ranks. It seems that the acronym “ESP” begins to stand for “Expendable School Personnel.” It is imperative that ESPs work to make themselves appear less expendable and more valuable to a school staff. There are many ways that we can take matters into our own hands to effect this change in perception:
- Take advantage of professional development opportunities. Don’t assume that professional development is only for certificated personnel. Advocate for your right to be adequately and properly trained for your job. The IEA offers professional development workshops specific to ESPs during the Summer Institute, and periodically throughout the school year.
- Become visible in your school and your community. Volunteer to help in school events, after school activities, and especially in your community. By showcasing your abilities and talents in different venues, you create a broader network of support and future opportunities.
- Become actively involved in your association. The opportunities and protections available to you as an ESP member came as a result of efforts made by active and involved ESP members before you. These gains need to be safeguarded and new gains need to be made. Be willing to step up! Run for a local office or volunteer to help on a committee. Make sure that the concerns of the ESPs in your school are heard and help come up with a solution. Run as a delegate to Delegate Assembly – learn first-hand how governance works and meet with other ESPs who share your same goals.
ESPs in Idaho cannot afford to sit back and wait to see what happens or hope others will champion our cause. Change and improvement require action. Be the one who makes it happen. As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Working together, as ESP members united, great things can – and will – happen. Be a part of it!
–Bobbie Steffensen, ESP Committee