In The Politics of Autism, I write about special education and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Due to statewide teacher shortages, many of California’s approximately 800,000 special education students are being taught by teachers who haven’t completed teacher preparation programs or have received only partial training.
There were more special education teachers with substandard credentials than in any other subject area in 2017-18, the most recent year for which data is available. About 60 percent of first-year special education teachers were working without a full special education teaching credential, according to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
That year, the number of first-year special education teachers without full credentials totaled 5,196. That is the highest number in a decade, said Desiree Carver-Thomas, a researcher with the Learning Policy Institute, a research and policy organization based in Palo Alto.California is not alone.
At Oregon Public Radio, Elizabeth Miller profiles Oregon Teacher of the Year Mercedes Muñoz, a special ed teacher:
Special education teachers have a predicted turnover rate that’s 46% higher than other teachers, according to an analysis of a National Center for Education Statistics teacher survey. Only foreign language teachers have a higher predicted turnover rate.
And the state cannot afford to lose more special education teachers. Oregon has listed it as a “teacher shortage area” for more than 25 years.
Muñoz has watched some of her friends leave the profession or cut back on hours.
“Many teachers that I know are struggling with depression … with physical ailments,” Muñoz said. “I myself have an autoimmune disorder. I had no medical issues before becoming a teacher. None.”