I remember 20-plus years ago when I was getting my graduate degree in Special Education. A buddy of mine getting his degree in elementary education told me that his father, a school principal, said I probably shouldn’t waste my time getting a master’s in Special Education. He said that Special Education would be eventually fading out of public education. I was almost done with my master’s at this point, so I figured I would have to take my chances with it; besides, what other choice did I have anyway at that point?
I got a Special Education job and taught for about ten years. There were a lot of ups and downs over those ten years, and eventually, I decided that I wanted a change, so I got certified and switched over to high school history. At this point in my career, I remembered what my friend had said a decade ago and wondered if I was ahead of the curve on schools no longer needing special education teachers, even though it was ten years later. I asked if my job was now safe in my newfound home in the history department. Well, I loved teaching history, but life has its funny ways that aren’t aligned with us and what we want, so after a decade of teaching history, I got a first-class education on budget cuts, and my job was eliminated. Thankfully, I landed on my feet back in Special Education, believe it or not.
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It had been more than two decades since my old graduate school buddy told me that the need for special education teachers was disappearing. During the previous two decades, my friend had gone from graduate school to elementary school teacher to assistant principal to principal, just like his father had.
I had gone from graduate school to sa special education teacher to a history teacher to back to a special education teacher like nobody else to know had done. Believe it or not, many special education jobs were still available when I landed there for a second time. There were plenty of jobs because there was a shortage of special education teachers in 49 out of our 50 states. Imagine that… Two decades later, I was told that Special Education was going away, and they still can’t seem to get enough special education teachers.
Fast-forward a few more years to today, and there is a new and interesting twist affecting Special Education called full inclusion. Now, inclusion isn’t a new thing in our schools. Inclusion has a long, interesting history in our schools. Six decades ago, there was the Supreme Court Case of Brown v. Board of Education. In 1954, the new law of the land became integrated schools for all races. Finally, four decades ago, the ground-breaking law of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) began to take effect and help ensure that more than six million students with disabilities have the right to a free and appropriate education, which means they, too, get to be included in with the general education population Alie Nation.