June 16, 2005
AFT Media Affairs
Statement by Edward J. McElroy,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
on the Department of Education’s Decision To Shift the Deadline
for Paraprofessionals To Meet NCLB’s Staffing Requirements
WASHINGTON, D.C. – We applaud today's decision by U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to extend to the end of the 2005-06 school year the deadline for paraprofessionals to meet staffing requirements under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). It is common sense to have aligned this deadline with others in the NCLB law. Today's announcement recognizes and corrects one of NCLB’s several unintended consequences—the inequity that until now existed in the time provided for teachers and paraprofessionals to demonstrate their qualifications.
In a letter to Secretary Spellings in May, and during a recent meeting with her, we expressed the union's concern that given the Jan. 8, 2006, date previously set as the deadline for paraprofessional compliance, some school districts were reducing the amount of time that these hard-working individuals have to demonstrate that they are highly qualified. It was a tremendous disservice to paraprofessionals who are playing by the rules in fulfilling NCLB's requirements. It also threatened to adversely affect students, as the ability of these paraprofessionals to continue working in the classroom was unfairly compromised.Today's announcement is a positive one, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Department on all matters related to this important law. When it comes NCLB, we remain committed to getting it right.
Read President McElroy's May 4 letter to Secretary Spellings urging changes to NCLB's deadline for paraprofessional staffing requirements.
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The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.