Here at eLuma, special education leadership has given us great hope for the future of special education. We recently returned from Biloxi, Mississippi, where we attended the 2018 CASE (Council of Administrators of Special Education) Annual Fall Conference. While there, we had the wonderful opportunity to meet with and learn from local, state and national leaders in special education like Dr. Mary Lynn Boscardin, Phyllis Wolfram, Erin Maguire and Kevin Rubenstein.
While the history of special education shows that there are some serious problems that need to be faced, it’s clear that we have great and inspired leadership. And this gives us lots of reasons to have hope for the future of special education.
Policy Changes, Small Victories & Passionate Leaders In Special Education
Kevin Rubenstein, President of Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education (IAASE): “So there are a lot of things that give me hope for the future of special education. I think about our teachers who are new and young and vibrant coming into the profession right now — who come into our classrooms every day with lots of energy — to work with our students on a day-to-day basis. And that is exciting.
I think about our workaround policy issues and when we’re able to talk with some members of Congress or some members of our state legislature about a policy issue that’s important to us, and have them see eye to eye with us, and make even a little bit of movement around that.
And there are even the small victories of working with a student with Down’s syndrome or a student with a speech challenge — who is just really making a lot of gains on their IEP goals. And you can see that day in and day out — and at the end of the year they’ve just made so much growth that their parents turn around and say, “you know, without this education, without the support, we wouldn’t be here today.” And so those sorts of things are the things that give me hope for the future of special education and I know that it’s making a difference in the lives of our children.”
Filling The Classrooms With Leaders In Special Education
Phyllis Wolfram, President of Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE) & Missouri Council of Administrators of Special Education (MO-CASE): “I believe that my greatest hope for special education today is that we would be able to fill every classroom with a qualified special education teacher — that we would be able to meet the needs of every student in public education — that every student that walks through our doors, we serve. And that can be a challenge many times.
But my greatest hope is that we can recruit teachers into the profession. We can show them how exciting, wonderful, and rewarding teaching special education can be. We have the opportunity through our professional organizations to provide leadership, provide training, and we have the opportunity to advocate on behalf of teachers and students. So if we can just draw those teachers in, I know that we have the resources and the means (as we continue to advocate for them) in order to provide what they need, and fulfill those needs of each one of our classrooms across the nation.”
CREATING A SENSE OF INCLUSION & BELONGING
Erin Maguire, President-elect of Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE): “So there are so many things that give me great hope about the future and special education. I look forward to the day where we see special education lead the way around thinking about what individual students need in the classroom. I also think that special education has been a forward leader around a sense of inclusion and belonging — and what we know is all students need to feel a sense of inclusion and belonging — that’s critical for everyone to be in their spaces to be great learners.
And so I think that the collaboration between special education and general education — and just being educators together in ways that really bring forward the research that we know works, and making sure that students have what they need. I really see that as the future and it makes me very hopeful.”
Prepared & Supported Leaders In Special Education
Mary Lynn Boscardin, President-elect of Council for Exceptional Children (CEC): “What gives me hope are the teachers that we’re preparing today, the special educators we’re preparing today, the special ed administrators were preparing today. They’re a talented group of individuals who are dedicated and willing to advocate for individuals with disabilities and their families.
The other thing that gives me hope is they have a skillset that exceeds skill sets of the past. They have skills in technology, they know how to use technology effectively, but not only technology for technology’s sake, they’re also good communicators.
And the other thing that gives me hope is there’s a vast network out there — a network that keeps expanding that they can tap into (to provide interventions, assessments for individuals with disabilities, etc.) that exists. And I’m sure it’s going to continue to grow — whether it comes through partnering with different nonprofit agencies or partnering with corporations and businesses that offer materials that supplement and enhance the education of students with disabilities — it’s just endless. And I think the world is their oyster. The brass ring is for them to grab. And that’s what gives me hope.”
With all of these things considered, there is plenty of reason for us to have hope for the future of special education thanks to the direction that the icons in special education leadership are taking us. We support these and other great leaders and invite you to do the same.