Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of the United States, students with disabilities are provided access to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). However, in recent years staffing issues have arisen with public schools suffering a critical shortage of special education teachers.
During last week’s board of education meeting, DeKalb County Schools Assistant Superintendent Brian Thomas spoke about the many vacancies left to be filled for the new school year, including in the Special Education field.
“Hopefully, we are closer to somewhere around 20 vacancies left,” he said. “The special education [department] is struggling.”
Per statistics from the Alabama State Department of Education, as of 2019, nearly 13%, the equivalent of 93,429 students in Alabama public schools receive some form of special education service.
Approximately 38.3% of students fall under a specific learning disability such as dysgraphia, dyscalculia and auditory processing disorder and dyslexia, the data suggested, while the other percentage receive special education services for autism or speech and language impairment services.
Thomas encourages people interested in pursuing a special education degree to do so.
“We would gladly have them,” said Thomas. “We need special education teachers and paraprofessionals. There are a lot of opportunities for work in DeKalb County.”
As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 600 educators are working in secondary school special education classrooms in Alabama.
Overall employment of special education teachers is projected to grow anywhere between 3% to 8% from now to 2029.
For more information about job opportunities, visit the Alabama State Department of Education at www.alabamaachieves.org.
To explore more about special education teaching careers, visit one of the many educational institutes in Alabama and the surrounding areas.