Special Education Teachers In Demand As IDEA Funds Increase


The demand for more special education teachers grows as new proposals for special education funding are awaiting approval from the White House.

The pending increase in funding is part of a multi-layered proposal for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is approved.

A recent proposal was released by the White House and is divided into quite a few separates categories in order to fully encompass the educational needs of students ages 3 to 21. A portion of IDEA proposal is pending for early intervention services for children up to the age of two.

IDEA Part B is notably the largest section of the proposal with an anticipated increase in funding for 2016 of $175 million. This boost in funds will bump the program from $11.6 million in funding to $11.7 million. The increase will prove very helpful to students and special education teachers alike.

Increases in funding to the IDEA program are certainly coming at the right time as the number of students requiring them is also on the rise, according to the National Education Association. Enrollment has spiked over 30% just within the last 10 years and is expected to continue the uptick as more children are diagnosed with varying levels of disabilities.

One study released by the CDC in 2014 alone cited a 30% increase in cases of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) since 2012. That means that roughly 1 out of every 68 children has been diagnosed with ASD within the last three years.

As the number of special needs children increases so does the needs for more special education teachers. There has been a significant surge in open positions for special education teachers and an additional 10% increase is expected over the next decade if the current trends persist.

However, the revolving door of teachers in this particular specialty area isn’t helping the students in need. Out of the 442,800 special education teachers licensed in the United States as of 2012, roughly 75% leave their positions with the 10 years, which ultimately leaves gaping holes in the educational needs of students with disabilities.

Lack of adequate funds to provide these students with the necessary level of education is often cited as a reason many special education teachers leave their professions thus making the pending IDEA proposal all the more important.

The IDEA Part 2 proposal will certainly prove to be valuable across the board, but the additional $10 million in funds to be set aside if approved are going to be of interest to current and future special education teachers.

This $10 million is going to be allocated for what the U.S. Department of Education is calling a “results-driven accountability” model. This new model is going to center solely around making improvements to the ways in which students with varying levels of disabilities achieve academic success. Special education advocate, Wrightslaw, of Virginia is have been working hard to bring awareness to programs just like this as the value to students is evident when they are implemented.

There are reportedly to be 22,000 students working towards earning a special education teaching certification, but the demand for for these teachers isn’t being met at all. The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), a Virginia based international organization focused on the special educational needs of disabled children, says that the amount of students working towards these teaching certifications really needs to double in order to really support the needs of students at all grade levels.

The University of Florida’s College of Education has four top ranking academic teaching programs with their special education curriculum coming in 5th place on the 2014 U.S. News & World Report’s Best Graduate School ranking. Teaching students interested in contributing to the educational needs of disabled students may consider what UF has to offer since it’s programs like this that provide the solid foundation new special education teachers need to adequately guide their students through their years in school.

If the proposals are indeed approved by the White House they will take effect in the 2016 fiscal year.

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