Dear West Chester,
As a special education major, I have a unique program at West Chester. I’m one of the students who won’t be graduating in four years, due to the major being a “dual.” Essentially, it means that in order to pursue special education, I have to pursue certification in special education and another teaching area.
Recently, the state changed this program. While there are many complexities with the new change, it will essentially be that special education will serve as its own major.
I’ve thought a lot about this, given that I had my own appreciation — and grievances — with the way the program is run, now. The way that I understand it, most students who dual-major in special education do it solely for the certification and experience. They plan to teach regular, early-grades education, and their background in special education makes them more marketable and knowledgeable teachers. This is great — the state desperately needs more regular-education teachers with a strong background in special education. But at the same time, the required dual-certification program makes it hard to find teachers for special education specifically.
With this major change, people will likely be more inclined to pursue special education now that they don’t have to dual-certify. In turn, I feel as though the numbers of general education teachers with background in special education will decrease. Teacher candidates can pursue a full “double major” in special education and another certification area, but it will be harder than the initial program.
Essentially, I feel we are getting a trade-off. As someone who has grown up watching my parents grapple with the excruciating nuances of special education for my little brother, I’ve always found it interesting how these details impact students and how it will change the nature of education going forward.
At the end of the day, I know that the world needs more special education teachers. We need people who are tough, compassionate, and believe in the students the world may be all-too willing to cast aside.
Have a great week, West Chester.