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But Why Special Education


Published: February 20, 2023

Author: Dr. Crystal Effler-Foles, Associate Professor of Education and Department Chair, School of Education

Educators and friends often ask me, “Why special education?” The honest answer is that the rewards you gain far outweigh the challenges you may face in a sometimes-thankless profession. What I mean by this is simple: Special Education is not just a typical job; it's a calling. Some may even say God Himself is dialing the number. If there is so much to gain from the profession, then why is Special Education struggling to recruit highly qualified individuals to teach?

Here is a quick synopsis of what we have found:

The state of special education in Illinois 

COVID takes the brunt of most of the issues in the United States, yet COVID only exacerbated a long-withstanding concern for Special Education that dates back several decades. Before COVID, the number of educators nationwide seeking a degree or endorsement in Special Education was minimal at best and continues to diminish each year. For example, in 2019, before the pandemic, Illinois approved 2,927 special education endorsements for graduates out of 25,309 total endorsements issued that same year. This number is much more significant than what we are currently producing. Nationally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics published that only 4.1% of our teacher population is endorsed and actively teaching in Special Education, with 37,000 positions still needing to be filled nationwide. Though the Illinois State Board of Education expects a 3.8% rise in all teaching areas over the next three years, the reality is a trickle-down effect happens when the needs in the classroom surpass the interest of those thinking about majoring in the profession. Even with this dismal outlook on prospective teachers entering the field, GU is confident about our current students’ ability to make an impact on the world. We recently asked Sophomore Taylor Weiss why she chose special education as a part of her concentration area. According to Taylor, “My Exceptional Child course allowed me to view my brother’s special educational teachers differently; it allowed me to see just how rewarding the job could be when you invest so much into a child’s success, working to help them to overcome deficits.”

How Greenville University is helping 

The Greenville University School of Education has dedicated this year to change. We are working to change how we approach the classroom experience, engage the different types of learners within our classrooms here on campus, and send followers of Christ into the educational field. 

For those seeking an endorsement in Special Education, GU has created a fast-track option to allow practicing educators to enroll in courses over the summer and finish the requirements by the end of August. 

GU is proud to be preparing the next generation of special educators. In addition to special education being a calling from God, it is a highly rewarding career that allows educators to continually help those who need it the most.

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