I am an Educational Assistant. I work primarily with children with special needs.
Do I enjoy my work? Yes. I love it. Do I enjoy my work enough to justify continuing to do it while my hours get cut so I can no longer make ends meet? No. Not really. I love my house and family more.
I have been an EA for a number of years. I thought I had paid my dues when, last year, I had finally moved from a part-time position to full-time: finally, some financial and job security!! This lasted exactly one year before the government’s cuts took that away from me.
Perhaps they don’t understand what our job entails. This is not to minimize the role of any other school employees. We are a team. We work together for the children.
In my time as an EA, I have had more time off due to injuries received at work than from sickness and appointments combined. I don’t take time off unless absolutely necessary. However, I have had the following occur to me in my time:
– a broken nose (received from a head-butt)
– broken glasses (2 pairs)
– ripped clothing (many articles)
– punches to just about every inch of my body
– kicks to the knees, stomach, ankles and genitals
– a lashing with a laptop cable
– stabbed with a pencil
And these were almost exclusively from students that had IMPROVED while working with me.
Sadly, what hurts the most of all is the lack of respect we receive for doing our jobs. The lack of job security that tells me that this is MY job; I’ve earned it.
It’s not just EAs that are hurt by these cuts. It’s also the students.
The student that isn’t receiving the help he needs to succeed.
The student who is acting out because he is lacking guidance when he is overwhelmed.
Even more so, the student who gets hit, kicked, punched, thrown, etc. etc. by a student with a diagnosis that doesn’t have the support they need.
EAs are a hard-working and dedicated group. We do this work because we want to help. We want to make a difference. We don’t do it for the money, which, if we are being honest isn’t exactly an exorbitant amount.
At this point, many EAs leave their job at a school only to go work at a second job just to be financially stable.
Would I like a raise? I certainly wouldn’t refuse one. Would I prefer job security and enough hours to support myself and my family? Most definitely.
Benjamin Rivard, E.A.