About ESPs

The 510,000 Educational Support Professional members of the National Education Association and the 29,500 ESP members of the Illinois Education Association take care of our children every day and make sure they have the tools they need to succeed in our schools and classrooms. We are truly the unsung heroes of public education.

We are the…

  • school bus driver who greets your child with a warm “hello” and delivers your child safely to school
  • cafeteria worker who gives your daughter a warm, healthy meal
  • paraeducator who provides your child with a little extra help in the classroom
  • school nurse who comforts your sick child
  • office assistant who makes sure your son’s records are up to date
  • technician who wires the classroom computers
  • custodian who works to keep the school environment safe and clean
  • security professional who help keep students and school employees safe.

We make up more than 40 percent of the total K-12 education workforce. We are a critically important part of the school community. We are directly involved in the delivery of educational services and positively affect student learning. The following are a few examples of how our ESP Local Associations are involved in education:

  • A bus drivers Association link bus safety activities with the language arts and social studies curriculum for kindergartners.
  • A paraprofessional Association supervise and train students to run a peace center where they learn peer mediation.
  • A food service staff teach nutrition to student and parent groups and provide tasty, economical catering for staff parties.
  • A custodian Association counsels elementary school teachers on selecting safe classroom materials.
  • A bus drivers association conducts workshops for parents on safety tips for their children.
  • A custodian association conducts in-services for school staff on the proper methods to store and label chemicals.

We bring years of experience to our jobs.

  • On average, K-12 ESP members have nearly 11 years of experience in education support work.

We are dedicated to students and schools.

  • Nearly 95 percent of K-12 ESP’s surveyed by the NEA said that they planned to stay in education.

We have strong ties to the community. Nearly 80 percent of us…

  • volunteer time to community organizations or activities
  • live in the school districts where we work