The Shortage of Special Education Faculty: Toward a Better Understanding

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Teacher Education and Special Education





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The shortage of special education faculty has reached a critical level; supply and demand are not currently in balance because the demand continues to exceed the supply. A variety of complex issues contributes to this disequilibrium: expanded career options, a declining number of doctoral graduates, an increased attrition rate, a stable number of new positions, and an expanded concept of what special education is and what services individuals with disabilities and their families require and are entitled to by law. We believe that this problem has not been solved in part because no uniform system of collecting data about the supply and demand of faculty has been implemented. Without comprehensive information to guide policy-makers at special education doctoral granting universities and in the federal government, systematic and direct efforts to solve the problem will not be possible. In this paper, we explain the need for a national, comprehensive data collection system by summarizing current information about the supply and demand of special education leadership personnel, describing the historical roots of leadership training and the related influence of federal grant programs, and discussing some new directions that might affect the need for leadership personnel in special education. In conclusion, we outline some of the topics that should be included in a national data base about the supply and demand of special education faculty members.

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