To the Editor:
Across the country, every state is facing special educator shortages. This job is a critical-need area. Not only does this career offer flexibility and a good salary, it also provides opportunities for committed and talented educators to profoundly impact the lives of students with disabilities and their families. Men and individuals from culturally and linguistically diverse groups are in particular demand as teachers in the field of special education.
Changing demographics now require teachers to be prepared to work with students and families who are culturally and linguistically diverse. The demographics are expected to continue to change, with schools serving increasing numbers of diverse students over the next decade. The diversity of special educators needs to reflect the diversity of their students. Applicants to teacher-preparation programs should consider those programs that recognize the importance of addressing cultural and linguistic diversity, both in the field and in the preparation program.
Programs should expose students to campus wide diversity initiatives, provide attention and sensitivity to cultural and linguistic diversity, and ensure that a focus on diversity is woven throughout the coursework, assignments, and class projects. Candidates should have student-teaching opportunities and clinical experiences in a variety of settings, both rural and urban, to allow them to master culturally responsive instructional strategies before being assigned to their own classrooms.
Special education is a challenging and rewarding career that makes a difference in the lives of students with disabilities.
Recruiter, School of Education
The College of William and Mary
A version of this article appeared in the January 09, 2013 edition of Education Week as More, Diverse Teachers Needed For Special Education