Revisiting The Sp. Ed. Teacher Shortage

12 Apr

This post brings together a few things I’ve been reading and thinking about lately as I contemplate what I want to do when I grow up.  As much as I want to get out of the business of self-contained teaching, my current position is the one single position that is clearly the most secure and recession proof of any other position in the building with the possible exception of the SLP.  And mine (blogname Ms. Cleo) is retiring at the end of the year.

I’ve been reading Disrupting Class by Clayton Christian and it has been an eye-opening read as I see many of the things he discusses in this book.  Georgia Virtual Academy/Georgia Virtual School anyone?  You can visit Christian’s blog here. Here’s an interview:

Basically, if you follow his reasoning and his predictions, most course work will be offered online by 2020, and it will be a lot more student centric.  The technology will enable more differentiation and learner flexibility.  Many rural districts in the country are already utilizing the new technologies for AP courses or those courses that can not be offered because there are no HQ teachers around.  Imagine being able to take an exotic foreign language or a high level math or science course and not having to worry about there not being a teacher around to teach it.  Basically, most core courses can be taught (to the test) in this fashion.  This modality would enable a teacher to actually teacher more students and give them more individual attention as needed because they wouldn’t have to do all the work involved with planning content delivery or assessment.  That means a need for less teachers, which means less of a shortage.

Except for that one area.  You know the one.  I’ve already talked about how forces are conspiring to make it even more of a shortage area.  You can see Georgia shortage areas here.  It’s a bit dated, but most of those still apply.  Interestingly, as the Georgia Legislature is set to pass the legislation offering a raise for math and science teachers, the answer is right there in front of those folks.  This boston.com article puts it right there in the last sentence:

Tofig said a rising number of students are taking advanced math and science classes through Georgia Virtual Schools, which offers classes online.

But what bout those needing more help and assistance?  What about those who can not learn as well independently?  What about those who need specialized instruction based on diagnostic assessments?  That requires a higher level of expertise and a more personal level of interaction akin to what you might get from a doctor or mechanic.  Or one would hope.  Special education teachers, in addition to getting a short shrift from our governor and legislature are also getting it from another direction.  Districts, who are trying to staff their special education positions in the face of the shortage are grabbing people off the street and issuing provisional certificates good for 5 years.   So kids who need the most expert help will be getting services by the least qualified people.  This is the sad state of special education in Georgia.

Of course, the virtual school option is totally unavailable to the kids I teach.  My kids and I may be the very last holdouts when the last of the factory-style schools close their doors.  Nothing like job security!  And yet there will always be a shortage for SID/PID self-contained.  Even when they pull people off the street.

You can also feel free to tell Ms. Jenny what you think.  She’s a fellow GA Sp.Ed. teacher who has a poll up about the requirements to teach special education in Georgia.  She also has material available for those of you teaching students with more moderate disabilities.

Okay, enough ranting for awhile.  Hope everyone had a happy Spring Break/Easter!  Back at it tomorrow!

D.

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