Dr. Nathan Jones, BU Wheelock Associate Professor of Special Education and Dr. Elizabeth Bettini, BU Wheelock Assistant Professor of Special Education authored articles in the recent special issue of Teacher Education and Special Education (TESE).
The special issue is the inaugural issue under TESE’s new editorial team, Dr. Cynthia Griffin and Dr. Melinda Leko. The new editors sought out well-respected, senior members of the special education teacher education community to contribute articles, in collaboration with new leaders, such as Drs. Jones and Bettini. The focus of the inaugural issue is on providing a historical perspective and setting directions for future research, policy, and practice for cultivating a skilled educator workforce to serve students with disabilities.
Dr. Jones’ article, Improving Teaching Quality for Students With Disabilities: Establishing a Warrant for Teacher Education Practice, (co-authored with Dr. Mary Brownell and Hyojong Song from the University of Florida, and BU doctoral student, Kristabel Stark) examines the current state of research on special education teacher preparation. The authors review all articles published in Teacher Education and Special Education in the last ten years to summarize what the field has learned. We note the gaps that persist and then compare the types of teacher education studies published in TESE with those published in prominent teacher education and special education journals. The authors find that only a small proportion of published studies in these journals have focused on teacher education, and the field’s knowledge accumulation has been unevenly distributed across a range of subjects and student populations. The authors conclude the paper by making several recommendations for improving scholarship on special education teacher education, with an emphasis on the need for a more concerted focus on issues of measurement.
Dr. Elizabeth Bettini co-authored two articles in the special issue. With Drs. Loretta Mason Williams (Binghamton University), David Peyton (Appalachian State University), Alexandria Harvey (University of Florida), Michael Rosenberg (SUNY New Paltz), and Paul Sindelar (University of Florida), the first piece, Rethinking Shortages in Special Education: Making Good on the Promise of an Equal Opportunity for Students With Disabilities, focuses on the complexity of the special education teacher shortage and how it undermines equal education opportunities to a high-quality education. The authors describe how broad policy-based interventions and changes to teacher training have failed to remediate the issue. They suggest that the special education teacher shortage will not be remediated until working conditions improve and wage differentiation exists.
Bettini’s second article was co-authored with Drs. Bonnie Billingsley (Virginia Tech), Hannah Mathews (a post-Doctoral Associate at BU), and James McLeskey (University of Florida. Entitled, Improving Working Conditions to Support Special Educators’ Effectiveness: A Call for Leadership, the article outlines “an action agenda focused on researching and leveraging the roles of varied stakeholders, teacher educators, educational leaders, and professional organizations” to systematically improve special educators’ working conditions, in order to better support special educators in effectively serving students with disabilities, and in remaining committed to the profession over time.