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Monday, July 25, 2022

Special Ed Staffing Shortages

Cortney O'Brien at Fox News Digital:
Staffing shortages are a major factor in the struggle to support students with special needs, special education experts told Fox News Digital.

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), enacted in 1975, guarantees students with disabilities access to fully licensed special educators. Addie Angelov, co-founder and CEO of the Paramount Health Data Project, said that while the "spirit and intent" of the law was commendable, reality has painted a different picture.

All states except New Hampshire and New Mexico expect shortages in special education teachers for the 2021-2022 school year, according to a spokesperson from the U.S. Department of Education. While COVID-19 can account for some staffing setbacks, Angelov said the field of special education suffered from shortages long before the virus.

"There’s so much paperwork involved," she told Fox News Digital. "There’s so much of an administrative burden."

She was one of multiple experts who identified the high rate of regulations as a key factor in dissuading people from entering the field.

"It continues to be one of the most litigious federal laws on the books," said Phyllis Wolfram, who works for the Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE), which coordinates and implements special education programs for students under the IDEA. "It also is so highly regulated that the standards and requirements that teachers have to meet from state to state really vary. And it’s up into the hundreds."

There are some states where they’ve counted the standard requirements for that process of special education is over 1,000, Wolfram told Fox News Digital.

"That equates to 1,000 points of paperwork for teachers that they’re dotting their I’s and crossing their T’s, and it’s hard to teach and do all of the paperwork," she said.

Angelov and Wolfram cited a less-than-enticing salary as another factor keeping individuals from the field.