It’s not a surprise to anyone when they hear the phrase “teacher shortage,” however, 50 years ago, Americans couldn’t imagine a time when that would become their reality. According to the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), “undergraduate education degrees awarded annually peaked at almost 200,000 in the early 1970s and was less than 90,000 in 2018-19.” Statistics like this were made available in the second edition of their report: Colleges of Education: A National Portrait. So, why are individuals now less inclined to go into the field of education? But more importantly, how can we encourage and make it easier for new generations to get back into the classroom? With COVID-19 exacerbating the already sloping decline of teachers in the field, certain classrooms have been impacted the hardest, with special education being one of them. Even in 2018, before the global pandemic, there were 244,671 special education students and only 13,251 full-time special education teachers in Ohio, according to Special Education and the Teacher Shortage by Frontline Education. That’s an average of 1 teacher for every 18.5 students. These classrooms have very specific needs that must be met, and thus must have teachers with the proper training to do so successfully. That training involves earning an Intervention Specialist (IS) license, which along with having a passion for positively impacting the lives of special education students, also takes time and money. This financial roadblock alone is a massive deterrent for individuals to take that leap to begin a professional career in education, regardless of age. At the ESC of Central Ohio, work is being done to help future educators overcome these barriers and ultimately reverse the trending trajectory of this teaching shortage. The ESC of Central Ohio has recently launched a program that aims to increase the pool of high-quality teachers in local special education classrooms by assisting individuals with earning an IS license at no cost. The Career Development and Advancement Program, also called C-DAP, is currently accepting applications to begin their educational path to licensure. Robb Gonda, the Associate Director of Student Services, has been meeting with interested applicants while also prepping to hire IS licensed teachers and Teaching Assistants (TA) in the Central Ohio area. “We hope to further support our member districts and the students we serve through this new initiative. We want good people who want to make a difference in kids’ lives by helping them on their journey towards a rewarding career in special education”, Gonda spoke with excitement when discussing the goals for the future with C-DAP. To apply for the C-DAP Program, applicants must be working in one of our ESC classrooms for a minimum of six months in a position such as a Teaching Assistant. “Working as a TA for us is a great way to receive benefits and start gaining experience in the classroom regardless of what your previous educational journey has looked like,” explained Robb. “We are here to support you, just as you support the students in our classrooms.”
Once you have joined our staff and met the requirements to apply for the C-DAP program, we will work with you individually to see where you best fit with our partner universities. Whether you are starting with a high school diploma, have had some college experience, or even have a non-licensed Bachelor’s degree, there is a pathway for you to earn your IS license. There is currently a limited number of available spots, so if you are interested or know someone passionate about making a difference, don’t miss this opportunity to apply for a tuition-free education to make your career dreams a reality.