Representative Lillian Ortiz-Self has visited many schools over the last year with an eye on the employees providing instruction in the Transitional Bilingual Instruction Program (TBIP). What she found worried her so she introduced HB 2590.
So what worried her? The heavy reliance on paraeducators providing language instruction. As a result, she proposed, among other things, to limit the use of paraeducators. Her bill also requires TBIP paraeducators to get their specialty certificate before they can instruct students.
I testified that students in this program deserve highly qualified educators, and by that I meant paraeducators as well as teachers. I asked them to consider paraeducators similar to paralegals, paramedics, etc. Employees who are trained and supported so they can deliver high quality services to students.
I also reminded them that 63% of the hours of instruction, 1.5 million hours, to students in the TBIP program are delivered by paraeducators. Instead of limiting them, they should focus on supporting them.
Finally, I reminded them that this same issue is occurring in special education: 62% of instruction which equals 15 million hours of instruction by paraeducators.
Representative Ortiz-self has found a legitimate problem, now we need her to work with us to find a legitimate solution.