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Special ed teacher shortage in California: yes, it's concerning

Is there a need for more special education teachers across California, particularly in and around the Los Angeles metropolitan area?

Are you kidding?

A recent Los Angeles Times article noting the shortage of special education teachers in California flatly states that the need for more special ed instructors is acute everywhere across the state.

"Every district in California is facing a shortage of those teachers," states the paper.

For some perspective on just how dire the need is for such instructors, readers might simply consider this: Reportedly, 49 American states need more special ed teachers, with nine of every 10 districts across the country denoted as "high-poverty" having an especially notable problem in attracting and retaining these valuable instructors.

Across California, the problem is obvious and severe. A state commission reports that university enrollment of special education teachers has dropped by more than 25 percent in recent years.

And that sharp plunge is correlated with an estimated 82,600 disabled students needing special programs in the Los Angeles Unified School District alone.

The rush is on to meet the shortage, with efforts being made to restock colleges with special ed students and to cross train existing teachers.

That is at once promising and troubling. On the one hand, it signifies due appreciation of the problem and a corresponding attempt to fix it. On the other hand, though, it underscores its magnitude and raises concerns that some quality in instruction might be being sacrificed for the sake of turning out new duly credentialed teachers as quickly as possible.

The focal point of any special education-related story must of course be the students who qualify for assistance and have a compelling need to fully participate in quality educational programs.

Parents with any questions or concerns regarding special education in California can turn to a proven special education attorney for candid guidance and strong legal representation.

Source: LA School Report, "Facing shortages, LAUSD stepping up efforts to find special ed teachers," Mike Szymanski, Oct. 16, 2015

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