Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Special Education Teacher Jobs Filled with Teach for America Recruits

Schools can expect to spend twice as much on providing special education than on general education, and there is growing evidence that districts have begun dealing with those costs by drafting farm team players—Teach for America recruits—to be special education teachers. The Network for Public Education reports that in many districts, “including NYC, raw TFA recruits are assigned to special education classrooms almost exclusively –because this is the biggest shortage area.” Eighty percent of TFA’s NYC recruits in 2010-11 were working as special education teachers.  In Philadelphia, 46 of 213 corps members taught special education students in 2010. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA), special education teachers must be “highly qualified,” which means having a bachelor’s degree and obtaining state certification or being licensed as a special education teacher. Given the number of schoolteachers out of work after education budget cuts in New York and Philadelphia (and all over the country), is TFA these school districts' best option for dealing with a shortage (assuming, for the sake of argument, that two major metropolitan centers could not train or recruit certified special ed teachers) or simply the cheapest? More importantly, are these districts acting legally without proof that special education teachers are otherwise unavailable?


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This is a shame, but it's an old story. Before TFA came along, it was newly-minted teachers and "long-term subs." It's not like a bunch of successful, highly qualified special education teachers were dismissed to make room for these recruits. The problem is in finding highly qualified teachers who both want to teach special education and want to do it in these districts for the pay being offered. I have long been a proponent of significant pay differentials for special education teachers, but I'm not sure that would even solve the problem.

Posted by: Scott Bauries | Aug 1, 2013 6:24:24 AM

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