Due to the shortage of special education teachers, the LA United officials are stepping up efforts via a statewide campaign to fulfill its demand for special education teachers. The campaign includes finding those with relevant experience and expertise and also training teachers to become special education teachers.
“We are out and relentless as far as it goes for teachers, because university enrollment is down for special education teachers,” commented Debi Ignagni, the deputy chief human resources officer of LAUSD. “And we have a fully accredited district intern program where after two years you can get a special ed teaching credential.”
LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District) provides education to more than 640,000 students from kindergarten through 12th grade at more than a thousand schools. The area of their education spreads more than 700 miles including the metropolis of Los Angeles, as well as over 30 smaller municipalities and numerous other areas of Southern California.
The district, since 1983, has trained over 10,000 special education teachers, all of whom worked at LAUSD. According to Ignagni, the retention rate of special education teachers is a lot higher than average teachers.
The new campaign to attract more special education teachers comes amid a worrying trend of a drop of special education teacher numbers.
According to the California Commission on Teaching Credentials, the enrollment of teachers in special education teaching programs has fallen more than a quarter over the past couple of years and the number of disabled children enrolled at LAUSD is over 82,000. In addition, the national drop of special education has been reported to be nearly 49 percent. This is problematic for 90 percent of poverty-stricken districts that report great difficulty in finding experienced and qualified special education teachers.
Almost every district in California is facing a considerable shortage of such teachers, according to Ignagni. The LAUSD has been working closely with local universities that offer teaching credentials. Among these include the Cal State Northridge, Cal State LA, Cal State Dominiguez Hills, UCLA, as well as other private establishments. A lot of these schools even have a LAUSD official at university sites to recruit candidates for teaching positions.
The new campaign seeks to aggressively bolster efforts to find such teachers. Those with current teaching credentials are undergoing training to become the highly required special education teachers. In 2015, 125 LAUSD teachers are obtaining extra credentials, whereas, 73 are first-time teachers who are being trained exclusively for this purpose. Speaking on the issue, Ignangi said, “But I think it’s always critical when talking about students. Our first priority would be to have fully-prepared teachers in those classrooms. In that sense, yes, there is a shortage because we don’t have fully-prepared teachers in every classroom. Are we doing the best we can? Yes. And we are doing everything we can with coaching and support in the classroom as well.”
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