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Steven A. Greenburg, Education Law
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Paraprofessionals and the special education teacher shortage

Teacher shortages can have major impacts on students. One shortage school districts in many different parts of the country have been experiencing recently is a shortage of special education teachers. In the midst of this shortage, states and school districts have been turning to a range of tactics to combat it.

A recent Education Dive article focuses on one of these tactics. This tactic involves encouraging paraprofessionals who have been working in a school district to transition to becoming teachers in high-demand fields, including special education.

There are many advantages paraprofessionals could bring to the table when they transition to being special education teachers. These include:

  • Familiarity with students.
  • Connections to the community.
  • Familiarity with a school district’s system and processes.

There are also things that can be challenging about this transition for a paraprofessional. Among these are balancing their family and work life with the various time and resource requirements that go along with trying to get the education needed for this transition.

Some school districts, in an effort to draw paraprofessionals into the field of special education teaching, offer programs aimed at helping ease such challenges. Examples of things such programs might do on this front include offer paraprofessionals who are seeking to become a special education teacher mentorship and financial support.

How effective do you think such programs are at helping address special education teacher shortages? Would you like to see wide use of such programs here in California?

What measures school districts choose to turn to for addressing special education teacher shortages can be quite impactful. One wonders what sorts of tactics California school districts will end up employing on this front in the next few months and years. One further wonders what impacts the chosen tactics will have on the quality of special education programs at the state’s schools and what sorts of issues related to special education come up for students and parents.

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