The challenges faced by teachers and students in special education are problematic and need to be addressed urgently.
The biggest problem is staffing. We should add more special education teachers, paraeducators, and student assistants. In order to retain and recruit student assistants and paraeducators in special education we need to provide a differential salary above what is paid for the same title in a regular classroom setting. We should mandate a better salary and benefits in addition to offering more training to the temporary employees hired. Currently, temporary employees receive very little money, no benefits, and no paid days off, while working with special education students with the most severe disabilities and behavioral issues. Temporary employees in this field have high turnover and the current practice is not sustainable.
In addition, we should reduce the overwhelming paperwork and bureaucracy faced by these teachers. Documentation should be placed in an electronic system that is secure and protected, but with easy access for use in evaluation of the student’s placement and progress.
All special educators should have immediate access to communication equipment so they can readily ask for more support in any emergency situation.
The special education goes beyond the school system. The school system, parents, community organizations, federal agents, and the county’s health department work together to provide students in need wraparound services. The school system should frequently seek the feedback from special education educators to make continuous improvements to the programs.