Solving the special education teacher deficit

Across the nation schools are trying to locate and hire qualified special education teachers. The open positions are abundant and many teachers are not equipped to handle the challenges this difficult job presents. Schools often settle for inexperienced or under qualified candidates who may not last even a year or two.

The Lee Pesky Learning Center, in conjunction with Boise State University, believes that adequate teacher preparation can make all the difference. This nonprofit organization is working to overcome the teacher shortage by preparing individuals for the unique demands and challenges of working with special needs students.

The Pesky Center in Boise provides one-on-one instruction for special needs students after school hours, studying with an “education specialist.” Students of all ages come to work on anything from multiplication to reading comprehension with a mentor. Attention is placed on instructional components, how the student is responding and if goals are being achieved.

Founded in 1997, The Pesky Center was established to help students with learning disabilities. At the moment, the most pressing issue is locating and developing quality special education instructors. The center is helping to address this teacher shortage with a new training program. Students working toward a master’s in teaching at Boise State can apply to spend one year at the center as an instructor, while taking classes. The training and classes of this Special Education Collaborative program are covered by a scholarship from the founders of the center, Alan and Wendy Pesky.

Over the coming years, the hope is to grow the program and train even more teachers on the intricacies of working with special needs students. Professional development opportunities and training programs such as this will only help to tackle the special education teacher shortage by equipping educators with the skills necessary to be successful in their profession long-term.

Choose your Reaction!
  • There is far more to understanding why people are not going into the special education field of study. School districts must acknowledge and find support for SPED teachers when dealing with the varied accommodations required by their students that take up lunch and prep times. The most dedicated of us do this willingly, but over time it gets to be extremely draining for all. Also, the amount of testing and paperwork required with little time during the school day to accomplish it means loads of nightly and weekend school work. I retired in 2012 with a home workload of about 15 hours a week. Some weeks more, but very few less. I specialized in behavior disorders, and there is no doubt that it is a job for the young. Even with all the negatives stated above, I got immense pleasure from my job.

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