When we think of an education degree, we tend to think of elementary or secondary education or an emphasis in subjects like English or mathematics. But with Truman State’s announcement to take the special education specialization off hiatus, we wanted to voice our support of this decision.
Truman has a long history of producing quality educators from its roots as a teacher’s college. The hiatus of Truman’s special education program temporarily strayed from that heritage. We’re excited for the return of the special education programs, and the opportunities for our students and the children they will educate.
Too often, education tends to focus on the needs of intellectually midrange students. While this policy serves the greatest number of students, it tends to leave the needs of students on either end of the intellectual spectrum unaddressed. Students with learning disabilities are lost, while those whose intellectual abilities exceeding that of many of their peers are left bored and their time wasted.
The need for special education instructors is great. Typically, students with special academic needs require much more personalized, individualized attention. During 2011, Missouri’s average student to classroom teacher ratio was 18:1, according to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Across Missouri, the average student to teacher ratio for those with learning disabilities was 11.6:1 for the 2008-2009 school year, according to the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s study about shifting trends in special education. Those with serious learning disabilities might require one-on-one instruction. Although this Truman program is small, graduating only six to 12 students per year, according to Dr. Janet Gooch, Dean of the School of Health Sciences and Education, these graduates are entering a rapidly growing field.
Truman students once again have the freedom to study education in the capacity they choose, be it elementary, secondary or education for those with special needs. With the reinstatement of the special education program, Truman is creating more opportunities for our students to make a difference.