We Need an ESP Living Wage Now!

24,700 education support professionals in Maryland DO NOT make a living wage

FACT: 24,700 education support professionals (ESP) in Maryland DO NOT make a living wage — that’s one-fifth of Maryland’s pre-K–12 staff.

FACT: Starting in 2018, a living wage in Maryland’s suburban counties was $13.96/per hour; everywhere else, $10.49.

FACT: Many education support staff work two or three extra jobs to provide for their families.

In 2018, Jill Morris, an ESP and president of the Education Association of St. Mary’s County, testified before legislators that it was time to pass a living wage bill for ESP.

They didn’t. But bill sponsor — and former Howard County teacher — Eric Ebersole will introduce the legislation again this year.

Delegate Eric Ebersole (D-12) is introducing living wage legislation again this year.

“In each school in which I worked for 35 years, support staff were always an essential part of the team,” said Ebersole.

“Simply put, a school can’t operate effectively without them. ESPs should be respected and valued in every school, including being adequately compensated for the incredible work they do for our students and communities. I’m proud to sponsor this bill and hope that this is the year we can get it passed.”

We’re Marching for Our Schools Now
We can’t ask our kids to wait any longermseanewsfeed.com

ESPs like Morris — and all educators — must fight hard in Annapolis to pass the bill. “Many of the support professionals I work beside live from paycheck to paycheck and have to make hard choices, like whether to buy food or medicine because they can’t afford both,” said Morris.

“They support their families by taking on second or third jobs. These are not incidental employees in our schools. They are essential. Without ESPs, the whole business of learning would grind to a halt.

Jill Morris speaking at the MSEA’s Fix the Fund rally last year.

“We are not asking for much. We are asking for the respect of being acknowledged.

“We are asking for the dignity of being paid enough to support our families for committing our careers to the cause of making a difference in our students’ lives.”

Beyond passing the ESP living wage bill, we also need to fund it. That’s one more reason that our advocacy around adding new funding to our schools is so important. We can win the funding that our schools need and living wages for all ESPs.