Special education teacher market increases

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When a student decides to become a teacher in general or special education, they have many options to teach in different states. Currently schools all over the United States are in high demand for future educators, especially special education teachers.

Over the past several years, both the Special Education program at Pacific University, as well as special education in general, has changed. When the economy declined during the recession, the market for teachers did as well. Although special education cannot be legally cut from schools, their funding, teachers and extra programs that support students outside of their basic needs saw cutbacks.

But now the market for special education teachers is on an upswing and enrollment to the graduate program at Pacific is slowly increasing in numbers.

“We are getting more calls earlier than we have in the past,” Special Education Program Coordinator Kristy McGinnis said. “I’ve had districts call me and say ‘we have a teaching position that needs to be filled, do you have a teacher?’ [My reply is] not right this minute because all the ones who graduated have jobs.”

Pacific has also expanded its Special Education program, providing a special education licensure program to undergraduates for two years.

Sophomore Jeff Bajema has always wanted to have a career based around helping people. He has enjoyed working with the special needs population and is looking to explore both the undergraduate and graduate licensure programs.

“I’m preparing by taking a few of the required courses for the regular education program,” Bajema said. “I want to teach elementary level.”

The master’s program, currently on its fifteenth cohort, is a 17-month program with a flexible schedule during the school year. The program offers night and occasional Saturday classes and is mainly considered a commuter’s program.

Junior Lauren Goss is interested in the graduate program and will be taking her basic skills test, a math, reading and writing test at a tenth grade level. The test has to be passed in order to be admitted into the Special Education program as an undergraduate. This is the only test required for admission.

Once accepted, three more tests will follow: the multiple subjects test for elementary or the core content for middle and high school, a civil rights and special education test. The special education test will be toward the end of the students program.

Although the process may seem complicated to some, faculty in the College of Education urge students to come talk to them early on to help with clarification.

Looking to the future, Assistant Director of Admissions Diana Watkins wants to ensure students that the process isn’t as complicated as it might seem.

“When we are explaining it all, it does seem very complicated but there’s one test for admission and additional testing they will do within the program,” Watkins said.

McGinnis agrees and said they are looking for a better way to try to communicate with the undergraduates. Informational meetings for students who want to become teachers are taking place and a future educators club is also being formed for students who are interested in becoming teachers.

“The main thing is students who are interested in becoming teachers, need to get in and talk to us early,” Watkins said.  “It’s kind of complicated but it is way less complicated if the student comes in early because we are able to advise them and kind of take them through the process.”


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