Students need stability in both their home and school environments in order to thrive and learn. They need to know that they can depend on the adults they see in their lives every day. From a child’s perspective, those adults include not only their parents and teachers, but the other adults responsible for their care and safety, regardless of job titles.

Take “Emily” who was the subject of an editorial like this one back in 2012.

On the first day of school, in her first year of school, Emily’s mother wants everything to go right for her kindergartner. It’s her first time riding the big yellow school bus. She’s got on a new outfit, and she’s sporting a spotless new backpack. They go to the bus stop early on this first day.

It all goes well until the bus arrives and the door swings open. Suddenly Emily clutches her mother’s leg. She’s hysterical. The mother doesn’t know what to do. Should she drive her daughter to school? Should she keep her home?

A soothing, but firm voice cuts through the noise. She’s the bus driver. Her name is Carol.

“What’s her name?”  Carol asks.

“Emily,” the mother says.

“Come here, Emily,” Carol says as she opens her arms wide. “It’s going to be OK. I’m going to take you to school, and I have a seat for you right behind me. You sit right here. I’m going to take you to school, and you’re going to have a great day.”

The tears dry up, and with a bright smile—and barely a “Bye, Mommy”—little Emily runs into the bus driver’s arms, to her seat, and off to school.

Carol puts the “professional” in educational support professional.

The mother heads off to work, relieved and grateful for all the Carols in the world. She knows that she needs Carol to be behind the wheel for her Emily every day.

A package of bills is currently before the state Senate and Assembly that will go a long way toward ensuring that Carol and all other educational support professionals have the job security they need to keep serving Emily and her fellow students across New Jersey.

Carol needs job security

Carol’s daily presence in children’s lives can make all the difference in how their days will go. But what if the district privatizes its transportation services? Will Carol be able to afford to keep the job with lower pay and no health insurance?

And when Emily gets off the bus, will there be sufficient dedicated staff to make sure the school she enters is clean and run by a fully staffed office? Will the school privatize the paraprofessionals, leading as it often does to inconsistent staffing, reducing the chance to individualize learning for Emily?

Will there be a consistent team of cafeteria staff? Will there be enough supervision in the lunchroom by cafeteria aides who know Emily and make sure she eats her lunch?

A package of bills is currently before the state Senate and Assembly that will go a long way toward ensuring that Carol and all other educational support professionals have the job security they need to keep serving Emily and her fellow students across New Jersey.

S-296 and A-3185/A-3395 would prohibit employers from entering into a subcontracting agreement that affects the employment of those covered by an unexpired collective bargaining agreement. Once a collective bargaining agreement expires, an employer would be permitted to enter into a subcontracting agreement only if the employer provides written notice to both the majority representative of employees—that’s your local association—in each collective bargaining unit and to the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission at least 90 days prior to any effort to seek a subcontracting agreement.

S-296 and A-3185/A-3395 would require your school board to give your local association the opportunity to meet and discuss the decision to subcontract and negotiate over its impact. Each employee replaced or displaced because of a subcontracting agreement would retain all previously acquired seniority and would have recall rights if the subcontracting terminates.

S-3089 and A-3664 would extend to nonteaching school employees the right to submit to binding arbitration any dispute regarding whether there is just cause for a disciplinary action up to and including the lack of continuation of employment.

Similar legislation has passed in previous legislative sessions, only to be vetoed by the previous governor. We now have a governor who would sign those bills, so we finally have a chance to see these vital protections become law. Call your senators and Assembly members asking them to co-sponsor these bills and support them when they come up for consideration. Their phone numbers can be found at actioncenter.njea.org/lat. Just scroll down to “Resources” and select “218th Legislative Roster.” You can also go to actioncenter.njea.org and use the tools there to send an email to your legislators in minutes.

Do this today. Emily, her classmates and her bus driver need you.

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