This is especially true when it comes to teachers for children with disabilities like autism, ADHD, and dyslexia, among other common learning and/or neurological disorders. I wouldn't be surprised if most if not all parents of special needs students haven't run up against teachers whose education was inadequate to the task, especially when are children are mainstreamed with regular education teachers. Even the National Council on Teacher Quality notes that "To ensure that our children receive a world-class education, their teachers need to be world-class. Sixty years of research and the experience of nations whose students outperform our own have proven that we can only achieve this goal by raising the bar of admission to teacher preparation programs."
According to the US Department of Labor, "[s]pecial education teachers in public schools are required to have a bachelor’s degree and a state-issued certification or license. Teachers in private schools also need a bachelor’s degree, but may not be required to have a state license or certification." Is a bachelor's degree really adequate? Even for regular education teachers?
How much training do teachers receive for teaching? At the secondary level, education courses generally begin in earnest during the junior year, and the average semester hours needed for secondary education certification are 30 hours or around 11 courses varying from 1, 2 to 3 semester hours. The average teacher has had one 1 hour course on exceptional needs student.
Teaching children, readying them for the future, is too important to rely on bachelor's degrees where they only spend one short class on exceptional needs students, especially given the reality that 13.1% of U.S. students are disabled.
According to Martha L. Minnow, "[p]roviding better training, support, and satisfaction for teachers is critical to improving both special education services and education for all students. Allocating funds to training programs, salaries, and class size reduction will help; shifting paradigms of instruction to provide continuity within the classroom for students as well as teachers will do as much."
It is imperative for our children's futures that the local, state, and federal levels of government recognize that competence in both our students and teachers requires the commitment of funds for research into best practices, to increasing teacher and staff pay and training, and to giving all students the individualized attention they need in order to succeed.