A variation of this article will appear on the upcoming MORE newsletter.
Occupational and physical therapists are an unseen part of New York City’s education community. But without OTs and PTs, thousands of the city’s promising – yet disabled – students would fall through the cracks.That’s why we’re alarmed that these therapists continue to be valued less than their equally critical peers: the teachers, social workers, school psychologists and others – who along with OTs and PTs provide immeasurable support for the city’s youths. Surprisingly, experienced OTs and PTs are paid 38 percent less than teachers and speech therapists with the same levels of education.New York City’s OTs and PTs are quietly turning around the lives of physically and emotionally challenged students, helping them overcome profound disabilities to reach their potential in the classroom. That’s not just good for families – it saves taxpayers money and generates revenues for the school system.All we ask for is fairness. Without equity, students with disabilities are in danger of losing a critical support network, a lifeline that will help them graduate and become productive New Yorkers.The best OTs and PTs often choose other jobs where they’re paid according to their value. Those who stay – because of their commitment to the kids they’ve helped for years – often work second jobs to support their families.We can all agree that our school children are our most precious resource. They represent the future of our wonderful city. Helping OTs and PTs remain in the New York City School System is another tool to help vulnerable students overcome obstacles and thrive.Let’s work together in support of our children. Let’s work together to support our OTs and PTs.