According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth and demand for special education teachers in the United States should grow at 4% through the year 2031. There are approximately 37,600 job openings for special education teachers every year, meaning educators pursuing a career in the field have job security.
Students with disabilities face significant challenges in learning, and the COVID-19 pandemic made their learning more complicated with the rapid implementation of remote learning. In North Carolina, many students with disabilities lost access to assistive technology, therapists and helping professionals, and some students have experienced medical complications that have resulted in hospitalization.
With the demand for special education teachers growing, many school districts need to fill vacancies. The online Master of Arts in Teaching with a Specialization in Special Education – General Curriculum program from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP) prepares students to become teacher leaders in special education and assist all learners in reaching their potential. This online degree program is an affordable and convenient pathway for special education teachers seeking initial teaching licensure in North Carolina.
The Factors of Funding
According to the North Carolina state constitution, it promises a "sound basic education" to all students, but rulings in the ongoing Hoke County Board of Education, et al v. State of North Carolina case have found that many schools in the state are not meeting the standard. In 2021, the state of North Carolina and the plaintiffs agreed on a plan to fix that issue, including increased funding for students with disabilities. Since some students with disabilities simply cannot adequately learn via a remote learning environment, they need extra attention from educators, nurses, psychologists and social workers who can provide additional support in the classroom.
Federal funding for special education in North Carolina comes from the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), and Every Student Needs Success Act (ESSA). IDEA is the chief federal funding source for special education and students with disabilities, while ESSA funding supports low-income students to help with student achievement. Federal funding is supposed to cover any additional costs to meet the individual needs of students with disabilities, but it rarely achieves that goal. The North Carolina state funding has a cap set at 13% of the student population, which began in 1993. In many areas, the number of students with disabilities far exceeds the cap, and school districts must use the money allotted for other areas to fill the special education funding gap.
While North Carolina is working towards a better education system for students with disabilities, there are ongoing efforts to track students throughout the system. The Every Child Accountability and Tracking System (ECATS) includes special education tracking data from all schools in North Carolina. This tracking system attempts to ensure that all students with disabilities develop emotionally, intellectually, physically and vocationally with appropriate individualized education in the least restrictive environment possible.
The Opportunities of an Advanced Degree
Students in this online degree program will study the behavioral and instructional techniques for providing the appropriate support for students with mild to moderate disabilities. Students will expand their understanding of the process, procedures and policies for providing special education services and learn about the contemporary issues that affect professional roles.
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