Minneapolis Education Support Professionals rally and march for higher pay

They are associate educators… special education assistants… family liaisons… and transportation coordinators at schools in Minneapolis. And they say they are at a breaking point.

"We are on the front lines and we are the ones keeping education going," said Brenda Johnson, a member of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers-local 59.

There was a rally and march for Education Support Professionals, or ESP, in the Minneapolis School District Monday afternoon. ESP are hourly staff negotiating a new contract with MPS.

Like other districts, MPS has been facing staffing challenges this year and it’s one of the reasons the district has temporarily transitioned to online learning.

"High turnover and lots of openings are a constant in our unit," said Shaun Laden, ESP Chapter President with the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers.

Laden says part of the problem is they can’t retain hourly employees, that about 10% of all ESP jobs in the district are unfilled. He says higher wages can fix that.

"The big ask is a starting wage of $35,000 a year. A typical education assistant comes in at $24,000 a year," he said.

Laden says Education Support Professionals are currently working under an expired contract.