The 21st Show

Special Education Training Programs For Rural Schools


Southern Illinois University received more than $345,000 from the state last year to train a cohort of special ed teachers. Today, we see how the program is working, and what still needs to be done to address the teacher shortage.

Educators and students across Illinois have struggled with a teacher shortage for years. And, with that shortage projected to hit 20,000 teachers by 2025, it’s a problem that Illinois will continue to face for the foreseeable future. 

The southern part of our state has been hit especially hard by these shortages, particularly special education programs. 

Last year, the University of Southern Illinois Carbondale received a grant from the Illinois Board of Higher Education to pay for the tuition, fees, books and some travel for 20 teacher’s aides who want to become full-fledged special ed teachers. 

David Ardrey is executive director for the Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools and Jan Pearcy is the executive director for Tri-County Special Education which provides special ed teachers to 20 districts in Perry, Jackson and Union counties. We were also joined by Deb Bruns who is a professor in the school of education at Southern Illinois University.

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