The Monterey County Office of Education, 236 special education teachers and 4,117 students with disabilities they serve across the county received an early Christmas gift this year: a $729,900 grant from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
“The county office has been working for several years on a variety of different solutions to solve the teacher shortage,” MCOE spokesperson Jessica Hull says, and lists off a few: “Recruiting in the Philippines, hosting teacher fairs, growing our own program to host workshops where people might considering teaching can learn to become a teacher.”
Schools across the state are faced with serious teacher shortages, with special education teachers being an especially challenging role to recruit for and to retain. This grant, part of California’s local solutions program, is one of three grant programs included in the state’s 2018-19 budget to help address this issue; there are $130 million set aside for this purpose.
Hull attributes Monterey County’s special education teacher shortage in part to the challenging nature of the work.
“Each student needs to have individualized attention and support,” she explains.
Being a special education teacher, Hull adds, can be physically and emotionally taxing.
MCOE, with a consortium of nine local districts, applied for the grant specifically to address the issues the local special education field is facing. The other districts are: Alisal, Greenfield, King City, Monterey Peninsula Unified, North Monterey County, San Ardo, San Antonio, San Lucas and Soledad.
The new funds will be used depending on the individual needs of each district included in the grant. Funding opportunities include supporting current teachers through professional development workshops, such as specialized trainings like one held last summer on how to best support students with mobility issues. Trainees were taught how to lift a student and help them stand on their own more effectively.
Funds can also be used to increase teacher compensation, promote mentorships between experienced and less experienced teachers.