Dougherty Co. addressing special education teacher shortage

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Published: Apr. 21, 2022 at 5:49 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Nearly every state in the nation is lacking special education teachers.

In Dougherty County, teachers have to float between schools to cover students’ needs.

“We are obviously not the only place affected by that,” Jill Addison, HR director, said. “I do think as a profession, education is going through the same struggle as many other um jobs right now, and special education is very, very specialized in that aspect. It takes a little more school, more tests to be qualified to teach our special education students.”

Jill Addison is the HR director for the Dougherty County School System. She says the school has...
Jill Addison is the HR director for the Dougherty County School System. She says the school has experienced staffing issues in general just like everyone else, but more specifically when it comes to special education teachers.(WALB)

Addison said there are several ways to become qualified in areas of special education.

“If you’re a traditional educator, you would get a four-year degree in education, and also specialize in special ed. Along with that education would come a Gace Content exam,” Addison said. “Depending on what type of special ed teacher you are, depends on what type of specialized exam you have to take. So special education is more difficult. It’s a more rigorous program and the exams are more rigorous. So again, that can be if you want to call it a barrier. It just, our pool become shorter in that aspect.”

Addison said state law is very strict when it comes to making sure teachers are qualified.

“Our special education teachers work so hard every single day that they have a passion for our students and meeting the needs of those students, and it takes a very, very, special person to be able to take on those initial exams, those initial responsibilities,” Addison said. “We are in a place that we want to support our special education teachers, our new teachers, our teachers that are already here.”

The school system offers bonuses in some cases to attract special education teachers. They’re planning a job fair at the end of the month.

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