WBEZ | shortages http://www.wbez.org/tags/shortages Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Behind the shortage of special ed teachers: long hours, crushing paperwork http://www.wbez.org/news/behind-shortage-special-ed-teachers-long-hours-crushing-paperwork-113694 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/LA Johnson.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res454059709" previewtitle="Man carrying huge stack of papers and papers strewn about"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Man carrying huge stack of papers and papers strewn about" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/02/carrying-the-load_slide-4c5f7e939336b1ac122ceeb6dfc1163f26fb9e13-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="Man carrying huge stack of papers and papers strewn about. (LA Johnson/NPR)" /></div><div><div>There is a letter that school districts really don&#39;t like sending home to parents of special education students. Each state has a different version, but they begin with something like this:</div></div></div><p>&quot;Dear Parent, as of the date of this letter your child&#39;s teacher is not considered &#39;highly qualified.&#39; &quot; And then: &quot;This doesn&#39;t mean your child&#39;s teacher is not capable or effective. It means they haven&#39;t met the state standards for teaching in their subject.&quot;</p><div id="res454315237"><div><p>In any other subject, that&#39;s an annoying problem that suggests students may not be well served. In special education, it means the school district is breaking the law.</p></div></div><p>The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, requires that every student have what&#39;s known as an IEP &mdash; Individualized Education Program. And almost always, those IEP&#39;s spell out that students &mdash; either some of the time or all of the time &mdash; must be taught by a teacher fully certified in special education.</p><p><strong>&#39;Under A Microscope&#39;</strong></p><p>And yet, around the country, that&#39;s exactly the category of teacher that&#39;s most in demand, as many states and districts are reporting severe shortages.</p><p>&quot;This crisis has been coming for a long time,&quot; says David Pennington, superintendent of Ponca City public schools in Oklahoma. Many teachers there are nearing retirement and he&#39;s not sure he can replace them.</p><p>&quot;Forget about replacing them with someone of the same quality,&quot; he says. &quot;I&#39;m just worried about replacing them. Period.&quot;</p><p>Pennington&#39;s rural district of 5,300 students northwest of Tulsa has been hit hard by the shortage. He says it&#39;s extremely difficult to persuade newer special education teachers to stay beyond two or three years.</p><p>&quot;The job is not what they thought it was going to be,&quot; Pennington explains. &quot;They feel like they&#39;re under a microscope all the time.&quot;</p><p>On top of the normal demands of teaching, special education teachers face additional pressures: feelings of isolation, fear of lawsuits and students who demand extra attention. Many are the only special-needs teacher in their grade or their school, or sometimes in the entire district.</p><p>And then, there&#39;s the seemingly endless paperwork.</p><p>&quot;It is not uncommon,&quot; Pennington says, &quot;for a special ed teacher to tell me, &#39;I did not get a degree in special ed to do paperwork, I got a degree to help kids.&#39; &quot;</p><p>The IDEA and the IEP require hours and hours of filling out forms and writing reports documenting each student&#39;s progress.</p><p>&quot;And when do teachers do that paperwork? Sometime during the hours of 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.,&quot; says Deborah Ziegler of the Council for Exceptional Children, a special education research and advocacy group. &quot;It&#39;s like having two full-time jobs.&quot;</p><p><strong>Solutions</strong></p><p>So what&#39;s the answer? Aggressive recruitment, says Trevor Greene. He&#39;s the human resources director of Highline Public Schools, a 19,000-student district south of Seattle.</p><p>&quot;Right now it&#39;s a buyers&#39; market,&quot; he says. &quot;Districts can&#39;t afford to wait around for the right candidate.&quot; And he&#39;s speaking from experience. When Greene started as HR director last July, he had 30 vacancies in special education to fill before school began in September.</p><p>&quot;It was pretty ominous at the beginning,&quot; he recalls.</p><p>Betty Olson is the special education administrator for the Boise public schools in Idaho, and she was also forced to hire a few general education teachers this year.Greene reached out on every teacher-recruitment platform he could find. He even tracked applicants down on LinkedIn.</p><p>Eventually, all 30 slots were filled.</p><p>Some were filled by teachers with full special-education credentials, and others were trained in general education subjects but were willing to make the switch. The district is working to get those teachers trained and certified &mdash; a situation that&#39;s steadily becoming common.</p><p>As the school year approached she was prepared to send some of her district specialists, former teachers who now train new teachers, back into the classroom to fill vacancies.</p><p>It didn&#39;t come to that. But she now has the challenge of helping a slew of new teachers adjust to the world of special education.</p><p>Olson is getting some help from Boise State University, which has created a new program designed to prepare teachers with little or no experience in special education. Candidates are put on a fast track to complete a master&#39;s degree, and they receive one-on-one support as they begin their new career.</p><p>Similar programs have popped up around the country. &quot;I&#39;m hopeful things will get better,&quot; Olson says.</p><p>Other administrators, like David Pennington from Oklahoma, are less optimistic.</p><p>He believes we&#39;re in for a rude awakening. He expects more and more teachers to look at all that responsibility, all that pressure, and conclude that it&#39;s not worth it.</p><p>And so, he wonders, &quot;What happens when it gets so bad that you literally cannot find anyone to be in charge of a classroom?&quot;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/11/09/436588372/behind-the-shortage-of-special-ed-teachers-long-hours-crushing-paperwork?ft=nprml&amp;f=436588372" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 09 Nov 2015 10:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/behind-shortage-special-ed-teachers-long-hours-crushing-paperwork-113694 The Brits have a sperm shortage — but they have a plan http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-09-02/brits-have-sperm-shortage-%E2%80%94-they-have-plan-112814 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/5396420759_9d5b2675db_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><aside><p>In Britain,&nbsp;as in many countries,&nbsp;there is&nbsp;a growing demand for sperm donors from couples who are unable to conceive on their own. Increasingly, demand is outstripping supply.</p><p>Last year, the British government came up with a solution: Set up a national sperm bank to&nbsp;make it easier for couples to get access to medically checked sperm.</p><p>But it has not been easy finding suitable donors.</p><p>A year later, and with more than 600 applicant donors,&nbsp;the bank&nbsp;still has just nine approved donors. According to&nbsp;Laura Witjens,&nbsp;the executive director of the bank, that should be a cause for celebration, rather than&nbsp;disappointment. &quot;I recognize that people say &#39;Nine? That&#39;s not a lot,&quot; She says. &quot;But I like to turn it round, and say: &#39;At this stage to have nine? Wow!&quot; It&#39;s a great place to be&quot;.</p><p>Part of the problem stems from the extreme difficulty of finding men whose sperm can withstand the demands of the donor process. Freezing and defrosting the samples destroys 80 to 90 percent of even successful donors&#39; sperm.</p><p>There is also the time and commitment required from each donor. Samples need to be taken several times a week for two or three months. That&#39;s followed by blood tests.</p><p>But perhaps the biggest difficulty in recruitment lies in the British law regarding donor anonymity. Under current rules, there is none. In the future, British children conceived from donated sperm will be able to trace and contact their biological father once they reach adulthood. Given the limited number of approved donors in the national bank, that could mean that each donor has the potential to be contacted by a large number offspring over the next few decades.</p><p>Witjens concedes that this may make some men reluctant to become donors, but &nbsp;she says it also forces her team to think more carefully about how to appeal to &nbsp;donors.</p><p>&quot;It would be easy to go for the cheeky advertising, and I know that would get a response,&quot; she explains. &quot;But there is a moral component. We don&#39;t necessarily need a superman, we need ordinary men, doing an extraordinary thing: Be willing to help childless couples.&quot;</p></aside><div>&nbsp;</div><p>&mdash; <a href="http://admin.pri.org/stories/2015-09-02/brits-have-sperm-shortage-they-have-plan" target="_blank"><em>The World</em></a></p></p> Wed, 02 Sep 2015 16:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-09-02/brits-have-sperm-shortage-%E2%80%94-they-have-plan-112814 Apple-picking season begins amid orchard shortages http://www.wbez.org/sections/culture/apple-picking-season-begins-amid-orchard-shortages-102162 <p><p>It&#39;s been a tough year for farmers: First, there was an unusually warm spring, followed by a few frosty nights and then a summer-long drought. September is the big month for pick-your-own apples in Illinois, but this year, some orchard owners say they&#39;re worried they won&#39;t be able to turn a profit.</p><p>Wade Kuipers, owner of <a href="http://www.kuipersfamilyfarm.com/contact-us.htm">Kuipers Family Farm</a> in Maple Park, IL, normally makes about $250-300,000 on his apple orchard alone.</p><p>But this year, Kuipers says he had to spend thousands of dollars on special equiptment like boilers and frost fans to try and ward off the frost in the spring.</p><p>&quot;We had a crew of ten people out there plus my whole family, my kids, driving tractors spraying warm water out there, running sprayers with fans to keep air moving and keep it circulating.&quot;&nbsp;<br /><br />After all that, Kuipers says he salvaged about half of his crop &mdash; but he still might not break even.</p><p>Down the road at Honey Hill Orchards in Waterman, IL, owner Steve Bock says he&#39;s had to cut their apple picking schedule back by four days because of the shortage.</p><p>&quot;This will be one of those years where definitely you&rsquo;ll be relying on what you made in the past to carry through. And at this time, I&rsquo;m really looking forward to next year,&quot; Bock said.</p><p>But even with customers coming Friday-Sunday this season, Bock says they may only have enough apples for two or three more weekends.</p></p> Tue, 04 Sep 2012 13:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/culture/apple-picking-season-begins-amid-orchard-shortages-102162