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WA workers who help schools run call for higher wages

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Workers who help Washington state classrooms run are calling for higher wages.

Known as classified staff, their jobs include administrative work, transportation and custodial services. Unions representing workers, including the American Federation of Teachers of Washington and Washington Education Association, have launched a wage campaign to increase pay for these workers.

Anitra Wise, a para-educator with the Tacoma School District, helps teachers in the classroom and said her wages simply aren’t enough.

“We have to work two and three different jobs just to catch up with the cost of living, including housing, groceries and things that we need to survive,” she said.

With Washington state school districts out for summer, classified staff members face another challenge: the suspension of their low wages.

Wise said she’s working at summer school this year.

“We have to supplement that income somehow, and I really don’t get a summer, because I have to work just to supplement my income,” she continued.

Wise added classified staff have many important jobs, including the work she does as a para-educator in the classroom.

“We’re the glue that keep it together, do all the small jobs and the big jobs, too. Because without the team of para-educators, the teachers would not be able to teach, and para-educators are teachers also,” she said.

Featured photo: Staff – in addition to teachers – are needed to ensure schools run, but these workers are often paid low wages. (davit85/Adobe Stock)

Eric Tegethoff

Eric Tegethoff is a journalist covering the Northwest. Eric has worked as a reporter for KBOO, XRAY FM, and Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, Oregon, as well as other print and digital news media. In 2012, Eric traveled to North Dakota to write about the Bakken region oil boom. He's also worked at a movie theater, as a campaign canvasser and quality assurance at a milk packaging factory. Eric is originally from Orlando, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2010.

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Ben Goodwin
Ben Goodwin
16 days ago

How about we discuss bringing our Educational Standards up before we discuss raises? This is what’s wrong with our Educational system and why so many parents have opted out of Public Education.