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For Some ESPs, TLCC Access is Overdue

Posted on: February 10, 2022
Posted By: Jennifer Latham
Posted in: Blog
Tagged: ESPs

It’s early in the New Year and the holidays are behind me, but I’m feeling like a kid anticipating Santa’s arrival, delivering a much-desired gift. The Santa in this case is the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) and the gift is the opportunity to finally take part in the Teaching and Learning Conditions in Colorado (TLCC) survey. I’ve been an educator for as long as the survey has been around, but I’ve never been able to take it because the voice of education support professionals (ESPs) has been excluded – until now.

Turn back the clock to two years ago, the last time the survey was conducted. My paraeducator colleagues and I would hear about the survey as it got under way. We would see our teacher colleagues and administrators receive survey access as Association Representatives made the rounds of our schools. We would ask to participate as we have valuable input to share about what the survey was measuring. And the answer was always the same: Sorry, but you aren’t allowed to take the survey. It was disappointing. It was disheartening. And it needed to change.

Enter the CEA ESP Advisory Council, composed of ESP leaders from around the state. We decided to take action and wrote a proposed New Business Item, which received support. The work for impactful change was under way. CEA staff began drafting a proposed bill and securing sponsors for the legislation. Finally, the power of our voices was heard loud and clear during this past legislative session. ESPs from the Front Range to Durango testified before the House and Senate Education Committees, along with CEA President Amie Baca-Oehlert. Lawmakers heard our stories and responded by passing the legislation. It was an
empowering win for ESPs, who often have to fight hard for the respect we deserve in many different instances.

ESPs further got to use their voice by participating in read aloud sessions with the consulting firm working with the Colorado Department of Education to develop the ESP specific survey questions. More than 100 CEA ESP members took time out of their busy lives to pilot the survey. And now, thousands of ESPs finally get a chance to elevate our voices in research and policy, and to be full participants in school and district
improvement statewide!

Our professional insight and input will help schools, districts, and state policymakers to better understand ESP working conditions, job satisfaction, and retention challenges. This is critical now more than ever as we know a majority of educators are seriously considering leaving the profession.

As I delivered the survey information and access codes to my paraeducator colleagues, telling them that we were being included for the first time, reactions were emphatic.

“Rightfully so!”

“It’s about time!”

When we use our voice, we accomplish great things! How will you use your voice this year? Make a plan now!

Jennifer Latham is a paraeducator and member of the Durango ESPA and the CEA Education Support Professional At-Large Director.

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