- In early November, 2020, we sent the following out to those
on the Center’s listserv:
are at another point in time when tightened budgets are leading
to discussions about laying-off student/learning support staff
and contracting with outside resources to meet mandates that
cannot be waived.
who fight this trend stress that it contributes to efforts to
privatize public education. For example, the NEA has called for
activism to resist “the privatization of Education Support
We agree that
active steps must be taken quickly. The best approach, however,
is not just to fight against lay-offs and outsourcing. This is
the time to also emphasize
(a) how the
actions being taken will compound the continuing horrific impact
of COVID-19 on students, teachers, schools, families, and
(b) how the
impact can be minimized by maintaining the limited resources
currently and necessarily allocated for addressing barriers to
learning and teaching and using them to start transforming the
existing fragmented and marginalized approach to
student/learning supports into a unified, comprehensive, and
equitable system of learning supports.
And see the
Call to Action as part of the National Initiative for
Transforming Student and Learning Supports
*On Nov. 19, 2020, NEA offered a
Webinar on Fighting Privatization in a Time of Crisis
The current state of affairs in our nation and schools should
not paralyze our activism, particularly when itcomes to
resisting the privatization of Education Support Professionals.
Social justice has always been a hardfight in this nation, and
we have seldom been able to choose ideal timing or conditions in
which to assert ourrights. We can and will fight privatization
today, and tomorrow, regardless of conditions.
In response to
our email on this issue, we received the following:
bringing attention to this matter. I'm currently a contracted
school psychologist. To my district's credit, they haven't made
any significant staffing cuts that I'm aware of and have
contracted several service providers (such as myself) to help
with corona virus related service backlogs. However, as someone
who's been active in the job market the last twelve months or
so, I've definitely noticed a trend toward outsourcing, even
prior to the pandemic (at least within my own field). In
addition to the negative impacts this practice may have on
educational outcomes, which you point out, it also creates labor
issues which I believe also impacts the quality of education.
I'm specifically referring to the practice by school districts
of using agencies (or "market facilitators" as they're
technically known by) to contract out employees. How does this
affect the composition school communities? Primarily through
significantly reduced compensation levels.
The arrangement between districts and
these market facilitators works as follows. A district will
contract with a facilitator for a service provider and pay the
facilitator an hourly rate close to that of what a district
employee in a similar capacity would make (minus health benefits
and retirement fund of course). However, the facilitator keeps
about 30% of that amount for itself as a service fee. For my
specific field the compensation is almost universally capped at
$50 (max) per hour regardless of agency (reduced working hours
not withstanding). When taking into account out-of-pocket costs
for healthcare and retirement savings, this obviously has a
substantial effect on one's life.
But here's the kicker and my main
point. This practice is just not necessary. Districts have the
ability to, and, in the past would, often hire contracted
employees directly. Under this arrangement at least contractors
do not give up a sizable portion of their earnings to a third
party and are given the dignity of earning a similar pay to that
of district employed colleagues. Instead, the substance of
market facilitator model amounts to the contracted employee
subsidizing the HR costs to the district of contracting out
employees, which comes directly out of the employee's wages.
Regardless of if a district chooses to hire directly or use an
agency, the cost differences to the district are likely
negligible, and certainly don't amount to 30% of a contractor's
pay. This is a disturbing trend which lies squarely within the
control of school districts.
While contracting in general may not
ideal, hiring directly is obviously a healthier practice and
arguably results in better outcomes for both employee and
quality of education. These may include school staffing
stability, employee's investment in the school community,
extended working hours and efficiency of service delivery.
Thanks for reading my rant. I hope
this brings a little bit more awareness and detail to the
contracting trend in general."
Please share your
thoughts on this and any related matters.
responses to Ltaylor@ucla.edu
For a range of resources related to this matter,/span>
National Initiative for Transforming Student and Learning Supports in 2016
Previously highlighted hot issues