Special Ed Teacher Shortage Emphasized : Diana Heldfond, CEO of Parallel Learning, discussed challenges in meeting special education needs on “Sunday Night in America” with Trey Gowdy. Having experienced learning problems, Heldfond now runs a business to meet the increasing demand for such services.
In “Sunday Night in America,” Heldfond discussed the diverse needs of 7.2 million special education kids. She discussed how children with dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, ADHD, and autism have unique learning styles. She emphasized that special education students have different needs than neurotypical students in regular classes.
A problem in special education is the need for more trained teachers. Heldfond attributed the shortage to insufficient incentives, special education qualifications, high turnover rates, exacerbated by COVID-19 and the ongoing staffing problem.
Heldfond said the school environment was partly to blame for the lack of special education teachers. Gowdy said teachers struggle financially regardless of school type. He asked Heldfond to support those interested in special education work. She said money is less important than the providers’ impact on students’ lives. Special education providers are crucial for helping disadvantaged kids succeed in school and society post-graduation.
Gowdy also inquired about the difficulty of assessing student growth in special education. He wondered if this hinders teacher evaluation. Heldond agreed, noting that each special education student has an individualized education plan (IEP). He also mentioned that testing standards are complex.
In IEPs, students are given goals to address their specific problems. The role of special education teachers is to assist children in achieving these goals. Heldfond said this goal is challenging due to the limited resources and time available.
The main issue is limited time and funds, and special education teachers often handle extensive paperwork and administrative tasks related to their services. Heldfond said special ed teachers have more work than other teachers, which is stressful.
Diana Heldfond’s “Sunday Night in America” interview highlighted schools’ challenges in meeting special education students’ needs. There’s a shortage of qualified providers, testing standards need to be clearer, and special education teachers are overwhelmed. Heldfond emphasized the importance of special education professionals in supporting students to succeed academically and personally.