Teachers are always a critical part of our education system, dedicating their lives to improving the lives and improving the knowledge of students. Teachers, at least good teachers, work hard to ensure that their students are improving in their areas of study and that they can move on to the next level. Teachers care because they are in a field that is dedicated to the betterment of others.
There are however teachers that choose an even more difficult path forward. Special Education teachers choose to work with those that are the most vulnerable in our society and work to make those individuals live happier more fulfilling lives. It’s not an easy profession, but those who do it seem to find it incredibly rewarding. Unfortunately, there seems to be a nationwide shortage of special education teachers. The U.S Department of Education is trying to do something to address that. The Universities of Kentucky (in Fayette County) and Louisville will share a 2.3 million dollar grant. The grant will be aimed at financially supporting doctoral students studying special education in a sincere effort to mitigate the shortage.
The details of the grant are as follows: The U.S Department of Education will provide equitable living expenses for ten doctoral students who are studying at the University of Kentucky or the University of Louisville. There will be a split of five scholars at each institution. The state of Kentucky has massive shortages in the number of special education teachers available, with these two schools being the only doctoral programs for special education in the entire state.
In Kentucky, the shortage has gotten so awful that in the 2017-2018 school year the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board issued 110 emergency certificates in special education. This means there are teachers working in special education classrooms that are not fully licensed, and may not be fully qualified for their intended roles.
The goal of these funds is to bring more special education teachers into the classrooms of the state and allow for doctoral candidates to be fully supported while pursuing their education. This will allow for them to graduate faster, and with significantly less financial stress. According to Ginerva Courtade, the Department Chair at the University of Louisville College of Education and Human Development, one of the struggles many doctoral students face is that they have to work throughout their doctoral program and this can delay graduation. “Typically we have students who are going through and taking two classes at the same time so it takes them a long time to get through their doctoral program” says Courtade.
Doctoral students supported by this program will focus on preparing future teachers to serve in high needs areas. These are areas that require special attention as far as educational resources and special time commitment to detail since they deal with subjects not often focused on by the mass population of the teaching staff. This program will hopefully be a step in the right direction as far as special education teaching candidates are concerned and will lead to an overall better learning environment for those students in need.