Earlier this year, in an extraordinary moment of bipartisan harmony, Congress passed new federal legislation called the RISE Act (Recognizing Achievement in Classified School Employees Act) to honor the dedication of PSRPs. Paraprofessionals and other support staff nationwide will now be eligible for an annual award, identified in the bill as the Recognizing Inspirational School Employees (RISE) Award Program, in recognition of their invaluable work with students every day.
Sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), the new law will celebrate school support employees as the unsung heroes—the “living infrastructure”—of America’s public schools. Although they may often seem “invisible,” school support staff remind us that it takes a team to run a school.
Nominees from each state will demonstrate excellence in their work, school and community involvement, leadership and commitment, local support, and enhancement of PSRPs’ image at school and in their community.
The RISE Act defines classified school employees as paraprofessionals, clerks and administrative employees, transportation workers, food and nutrition personnel, custodians and maintenance specialists, security officers, health assistants, technical workers and skilled trades people.
The U.S. Department of Education is at work on an application process for the new award. The AFT will be monitoring how the process is developed, and seeking out our own worthy nominees among inspiring local PSRPs.
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PSRP recognition is on the way
Thanks to the activism of our members, paraprofessionals and school-related personnel in pre-K-12 public schools across the U.S. will be recognized in a new federal awards program, the first of its kind to honor public school preK-12 support staff. Every year, the RISE (Recognizing Inspiring School Employees) program will honor one classified employee with an award to acknowledge the hard work and excellence shown by PSRPs nationwide.