Q: Do you recognize this symbol?
A: This is the Education Support Professionals’ certification symbol.
Q: Why do ESPs need a certification program?
A: Education support professionals recognize their need for professional development opportunities. To meet the changing requirements of their jobs, the ESP Certification program can enhance ESPs’ professionalism, gain them respect and help them perform their jobs at a higher level.
Q: What is MEA’s role in ESP certification program?
A: The MEA ESP Center for Professional Learning will be headquartered in the Professional Development and Human Rights Department (PD/HR). The center assumes overall administration of MEA sessions, reviewing and approving training classes and maintaining records for MEA classes on each participant’s involvement in the program. It will also award certificates upon completion of the total program.
Q: Will MEA offer training classes?
A: Yes, MEA Online Professional Development, in collaboration with Instructional Technology Service Inc., will provide training through the “My Education Connection” portal. Courses will be offered at community colleges, ISDs, school districts, professional organizations and private vendors. Some trainings offered at MEA conferences may qualify.
Q: How much will training cost?
A: MEA Online Professional Development is FREE to its members though the “Members Only” section of www.mea.org. Other costs will vary depending on the program provider, community college, ISD, local school district and/or private vendors. We suggest that locals bargain with school districts to pay for the training of support staff in the program.
Q: How will support staff receive credit for training sessions?
A: The only requirement is that participants must attend the entire scheduled training to be awarded credit. The center will not give partial credits for any class. For example, if someone attends only the morning session of a day-long workshop, they will not receive credit for the time they were there. For a program that leads to a certificate, candidates must demonstrate their commitment to the total educational process planned for them.
Q: Is it mandatory that ESP members participate in the program?
A: No, training for ESP certification is optional. However, MEA support staff members are demanding professional development to enhance their job skills. We’re finding that ESP jobs are changing —members are facing new roles, new responsibilities and new expectations. In many cases, their jobs are vastly different than they were 5 to 10 years ago. This program will give support staff the chance to learn new skills and acquire knowledge that directly applies to the jobs. In the long run, the skills acquired may make it less likely that an ESP position can be replaced through privatization.
Q: Our district already offers professional development for ESP. Can we apply the classes and training we’ve already taken toward ESP certification?
A: Yes, those courses may qualify if you have documentation of classes taken through your school district, community college, ISD, professional organizations and/or private vendors.
Look for this symbol at the Bargaining, Public Affairs and Professional Issues Conference Feb. 6-7 in Detroit.
For more information, contact MEA’s PD/HR Department at (800)292-1934.