Thursday, March 1, 2012

For full-time teachers considering a career in special education, there soon could be one less hurdle

Kristin Cole teaches a special education class at an Oakland middle school, a demanding job in a tough district. She wants to stay in Oakland, but like many of her colleagues, she has sometimes wondered how long she'd last in the school system -- or even in the profession.

Recently, as the deadline approached to earn a permanent credential, a process that takes up to two years and typically costs full-time teachers thousands of dollars in university fees, she faced a decision: Should she do it?
"It came down to a large amount of time and a ton of money," Cole said.
A new school district program, which is expected to launch in August, has resolved her dilemma.

Come fall, instead of driving to San Francisco State University at night after a long day of teaching, Cole will receive training at her school from an experienced colleague -- at no charge.

"It's kind of an amazing thing," Cole said. "It's something I've been pushing for for so long." Dozens of districts and county education offices in California have begun to give special education teachers -- those who have already earned a full preliminary certification -- the chance to finish, or "clear," their credentials in-house. It's the second of two steps which all teachers must take, regardless of how they entered the profession, if they plan to teach for longer than a few years. A newly credentialed teacher has five years to complete the process.

For years, general education teachers have been permitted to earn permanent teaching licenses through state-approved school district programs. New state regulations, which took effect in 2010, allowed special education teachers to do the same. Antioch, Pleasanton and San Jose school districts are offering such programs for at least some types of special education credentials, according to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. So are the California School for the Deaf in Fremont, the Aspire Public Schools charter network, and the Contra Costa and San Mateo county offices of education.

See Katy's Murphy's article in the Contra Costa Times HERE.
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