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NEA Issue Explainer

Education Support Professionals

Education Support Professionals play vital roles inside and outside the classroom. They keep schools and campuses running and ensure students are safe, healthy, and ready to learn.
photo of Latina educator holding a clipboard in front of a bus
Published: December 2, 2021
This issue explainer originally appeared on

One out of three public school employees is an Education Support Professional.

Education Support Professionals work in nine career fields:

  • Clerical service
  • Custodial and maintenance service
  • Food service
  • Health and student service
  • Paraeducators
  • Security service
  • Skilled trade
  • Technical service
  • Transportation service

They need the resources and tools to work with teachers on promoting student achievement, keeping students safe, and cultivating a positive school climate that makes learning and growth possible.

Lakila Bedeau
“We empower students by removing non-academic barriers, encouraging them to explore career opportunities and reach their full potential. We build critical relationships that ensure students are safe and successful regardless of their socio-economic status.”
Quote by: Lakilia Bedeau, Director of the Tornado Alley Youth Services Center at Paducah Tilghman High School

Recent Victory


Honoring ESPs with a New Award

Congress overwhelmingly passes, and Pres. Obama signs into law, the Recognizing Achievement in Classified Employees Act. The law created an annual program to acknowledge the work of outstanding Education Support Professionals in K-12 schools and higher education.

We Love our ESP

ESP Professional Growth Continuum

Key Facts About ESPs

Education Support Professionals are critical members of the K-12 and Higher-ed public education workforce.
photo of two female food service workers in a cafeteria

ESP Professional Growth

To ensure a great public education for every student, education support professionals (ESPs) want and deserve high-quality professional development and supports at every stage of their careers
Custodians are critical to re-opening schools

Stopping Privatization

No matter their age, from Pre-K to higher ed, our students benefit when all educators—janitorial staff, paraeducators, and college professors alike—are treated like the professionals they are.

Use Your Educator Voice.

We are THE voice for educators in Iowa. Ready to get involved?
ISEA members pose with signs as they advocate for students. One says "We'd rather being teaching, but this is important." Another says, "It's time to use our outside voices."

Active anywhere decisions impact our students.

From the School Board to the Statehouse or even the White House, ISEA members make our collective voice heard on a host of issues that impact our students, educators, and communities.

Learn more about what we're doing to improve the lives of our students, educators, and families.


Leading in our schools, communities, and state.

The Iowa State Education Association works to promote, advance, and protect public education, the education profession, and the rights and interests of our members. When you join the ISEA, you’re joining forces with the power and influence of 3.2 million members nationwide.