In 2019, 44 states reported special education teacher shortages to the federal government. This school year, that number jumped to 48 (NPR: All Things Considered, April 2022).
Let that sink in... Forty-eight states have a shortage of special education teachers. Those teachers that, historically, are specially trained in instructional strategies and tools that support the learning and growth of children with disabilities and learning differences.
This begs the question: If there is a shortage of special educators in 48 states, who is teaching your child? Who is providing those supports and specially designed instruction?
Who is the expert on special education on your child's school campus?
No one?! A person with no or limited qualifications? (Warm bodies DO NOT make great teachers...)
Unfortunately, it's entirely possible. And THAT is very concerning.
It should be most concerning if you are a parent.
As a parent of a child with a disability, you know that your child needs might be slightly or very different from that of his/her peers. Does your child need:
Specially designed instruction?
Accommodations or modifications to instruction?
Assistive technology to engage in grade level content?
Supports for transitions, processes, and routines
And we know, these needs often do not end with the abbreviated above list.
So, as parents, and even as a community member, what do we do?
Get empowered. Know what helps your child learn, engage and be confident.
If your child is not reading at grade level yet, know that there is assistive technology in the classroom that can support this.
If he needs a visual schedule or his own set of procedures for a task, know that those can be created for him.
If your child needs to organize his thoughts prior to writing, he can use a graphic organizer or can have some oral practice with a partner.
Does she needs instructional modifications because she has an intellectual/cognitive disability? She can have those!
Unfortunately, we are experiencing teacher shortages everywhere. Ideally, general education teachers would have the strategies and tools that they need to support children with disabilities, but that is not always the case.
I read in an article that "in the meantime, schools and families will have to make do."
No. Not ok.
Parents, get empowered, build your knowledge, so you can empower your children.
For more information on how to make learning accessible, supportive, and engaging for children with disabilities and learning differences, reach out and book a consultation: https://calendly.com/djnicholson/30min or a strategy session: https://calendly.com/djnicholson/15minstrategysession
Inclusiveology: Including Every Child in Learning
The Academic Inclusion Network
Read the article here: Students with Disabilities Have a Right to Qualified Teachers- but There's a Shortage