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The Children's Guild Offers Solutions for Hiring Special Education Teachers During Nationwide Staffing Shortages

Wednesday, 15 May 2024 09:30 AM

The Children's Guild

More than Half of all Schools Report Feeling Understaffed - Where are Special Ed Teachers Going?

WASHINGTON, DC / ACCESSWIRE / May 15, 2024 / A nationwide survey of schools reported special education teacher vacancies were nearly twice that of other subject areas, with 65% of public schools in the US reporting being understaffed in special education. More than 78% reported difficulty in hiring special education staff. Yet more than 7.5 million US students - 15% of all students - have disabilities that qualify them for Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). No one knows this dilemma better than The Children's Guild (TCG) which operates three non-public schools (The Children's Guild School of Baltimore, The Children's Guild School of Prince George's County, and The Children's Guild - Transformation Academy) and understands the difficulty in finding special education teachers, speech-language pathologists, school social workers and clinicians, and therapeutic behavioral aides and classroom aides.

With more than 60% of students with disabilities spending at least 80% of their day in general classes, the need for special educators and their skills in customized curriculums that are accessible to students with disabilities is more essential than ever. Public and private schools are desperate for special education professionals of all kinds. TCG serves students with behavioral and academic challenges that are usually caused by diagnosed disabilities such as emotional disability, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), developmental disabilities, and more.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for special education teachers and related service providers requires that every teacher must hold at least a bachelor's degree and obtain full certification in their state or pass the state special education teacher licensing exam. States are not allowed to waive special education certification or licensure on an emergency, temporary, or provisional basis. Fast-tracking special education teachers by reducing requirements for entry is counterproductive. Underprepared special education teachers are less effective and even more likely to leave the field.

Improved working conditions, however, can help with special education teacher retention. Studies show that special educators who provided stronger instruction had a trusted partner co-leading their program, consistent paraprofessionals to help, and adequate time and support for training.

In addition, pay increases for special education teachers are certainly helping. The Children's Guild's Baltimore Principal, Dr. Katina Webster, testified in early 2023 before the Maryland Senate on Maryland Senate Bill 311 to advocate for a pay increase for special education teachers, which took full effect by July 1, 2023.

Looking for other solutions? Preparation and qualifications matter. Strong induction programs and mentorship help. District and university partnerships help, as well. There are many financial incentives besides higher pay - loan forgiveness and tuition remission programs offer more prepared and effective teachers.

Here are ways to improve retention. Offer a positive school climate with a supportive administration where all teachers share responsibility for student achievement, enjoy administrative support, and work with collaborative colleagues. The Children's Guild recently embarked on a listening tour among their schools and programs to help build up employee retention and engagement. Senior leaders were concerned about stats that stood out as problematic at their non-public special education schools and public charter schools alike, such as low trust in leadership and values and daily work misalignment, among others.

Implementing employee feedback and recognition tools - and ensuring that employees feel heard and leadership remains accountable for implementing changes - can help all educators build increased trust between front-line staff and management. Hopefully, a refocus on employee engagement will help the country's special education professionals feel supported and help organizations thrive. Learn more about TCG's approach, here

In 2024, The Children's Guild non-public schools partnered with the organization's HR team to create hiring events at their schools. These events held in-person and onsite interviews, and applicants had the opportunity to be hired immediately and begin the onboarding process on the same day. Many of the jobs that were opened included a sign-on bonus for special education teachers and staff and pay above the national average for most positions. Through this process, TCG hired several amazing special education staff and is hopeful to continue to reach those who are looking to build a meaningful career in special education. To learn more about upcoming hiring events click this link.

Once hired, TCG's special education teachers are welcomed into a culture of support and listening. To learn more about how to create a culture of trust and collaboration, download resources here.

The Children's Guild (TCG), founded in 1953, is a leading Mid-Atlantic nonprofit organization focused on helping students and families find success socially, emotionally, educationally, and developmentally through special education, school-based mental health services, treatment foster care, autism services, family mental and behavioral health services, and workforce development programs.

Affiliates of The Children's Guild include The Children's Guild School of Baltimore, The Children's Guild DC Public Charter School, The Children's Guild School of Prince George's County, Monarch Academy Glen Burnie, Monarch Global Academy Laurel, Monarch Academy Annapolis, Monarch Preschool College Park, The Children's Guild- Transformation Academy, The Outpatient Mental Health Clinic (OMHC), Treatment Foster Care, and TranZed Apprenticeships. For more information, visit

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For further information, contact:
Amy Riemer, Media Relations
978-502-4895 (mobile)
[email protected]

SOURCE: The Children's Guild

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