I want the red shirt.

I go to work every day with a smile on my face. I love my job.

But if I’m being honest, I can share that when I pause and really think about things, It’s easy to feel very down in the dumps about school-based OT.

Are you wondering why? 

Because as a school-based OT, I work the same hours as the teachers, social workers, psychologists, speech therapists, and guidance counselors. I have the same education, responsibilities, and the same role.

But I don’t have the red shirt. And that means I don’t have EQUITY or PARITY.

Every Thursday the staff in my district wear their “Red for Ed” Teachers Union shirts. Every teacher, speech therapist, social worker, teacher’s assistant, school counselor, etc. You get the picture.

But not me.

Miss Jaime OT Facebook, OT advocacy, #SchoolOTsMatter

 

OT is not included in the teacher’s union in my district (and many others), and it causes MANY issues of equity in the school setting.

Last week, one of my kindergarten students said to me, “Miss Jaime, you forgot your red shirt.”
I smiled ruefully at her. “I don’t have a red shirt, Victoria. Those are only for teachers.”
“But you are a teacher, Miss Jaime!”

I answered her sadly. “Thank you, Victoria, I think so, too.”

NY state education department doesn’t categorize OTs and PTs as “educators”. The other “related services” professions – social workers, school counselors, psychologists, and even school attendance teachers fall under the category of “pupil personnel provider.” Pupil personnel is one of the three categories where school professionals can receive teaching certificates.

This impacts PARITY for OTs and PTs in the school setting.  We often do not have the same benefits, salary scale, or professional development opportunities.  We aren’t allowed to advance to leadership positions. Many OTs and PTs don’t even get a lunch hour. 

The exclusion of OTs and PTs from the category of “educators” in the education system is an outdated practice that needs change. 

Are you impacted by this type of systemic discrimination? 

Do you want to learn more about how you can help to change it? 

If so, I invite you to join my Facebook group:

USA School-based OTs & PTs looking for a change

Miss Jaime OT Facebook, OT Advocacy, School-based OT advocacy,

Jaime started the Facebook group “USA school-based OTs looking for change in 2018”. Have you joined yet?

Also, for the month of April, I’m offering a FREE webinar about Advocacy for School-based Occupational Therapists.  (NYSOTA CUEs included!) 

If you have a story about how lack of equity is impacting YOU and YOUR students as a school OT, please email me!  I want to hear your story.  We’re in this together! 

OT advocacy, #SchoolOTs, MissJaimeOT, #SchoolOtsmatter

Why do Occupational Therapists want Educational Credentialing?

You may have heard the buzz about Occupational Therapists advocating for Educational Credentialing. Especially if you work in the education world.

What is Educational Credentialing? 

State Education laws vary from state to state.  But in every single state in the USA (except for four), OTs and PTs are not under the “umbrella” of teachers. They do not have “educational credentials”.

Why not? 

This started in the past.  Way in the past, because OTs and PTs were considered “medical” (like the nurses).  However, educational laws have changed to a more inclusive educational community. This changed how OTs and PTs are employed.

Now, school therapists support children’s academic success.   Unfortunately,  the state education departments haven’t revised their terminology and laws to include OTs and PTs as “educators”.  YET.

Continue reading

An “Old O.T.’s” Advice for other “School O.T.s”

Forward from Miss Jaime, O.T.:  When I first graduated from OT school, I got a job working as a contract therapist in a public school.  I had no supervisor, no mentor, and no one to ask questions.

Thank goodness, I ended up placed in a school with such a large caseload that there was also another (more experienced) OT.   She took me under her wing and offered me informal mentorship and much invaluable advice as a colleague and friend.

I left that agency very soon to get a district job, but I am forever grateful to my first mentor, Diane Fine, Occupational Therapy Extraordinaire.  Twenty years later, Diane still works for that agency in that building and has generously offered to share her experiences and advice to new school OTs in the field. Continue reading