Welcome to Special Education!

Welcome to the Los Angeles special education community! For a complete overview of the Teach For America Los Angeles special education program, check out the Los Angeles Special Education Onboarding Guide. 

We are absolutely ecstatic that you are considering joining our special education movement in Los Angeles. We are so excited to welcome you to our city to serve “the gap within the gap.” Knowing that special education teachers need to be prepared to service their students with special needs on day 1 of school, we have a responsibility to build our knowledge, skills and mindsets before that day around not only good teaching but special education best practices. Because the learning cure for new educators is steep, for special educator even steeper, we as a collective will be engaging in a variety of pre-work modules to best position ourselves to be the most effective educators in region.  

It was only in 1975 that students with disabilities won the right to free public education. Before this, they were often institutionalized and had very little opportunity to fulfill their potential. You will play a role in the school inclusion of our students. In California specifically, it was in 1978, after the federal Developmental Disabilities Act was passed, that Governor Jerry Brown designated what is now known as Disability Rights California, as a statewide agency. It was even later, in 1996, in which the Chanda Smith vs. LAUSD case was won on behalf of students with disabilities across the 2nd largest school district in the nation. While this case placed the past failures of our city to meet the needs of students with learning differences into the newspapers, today we in Los Angeles are still not doing justice for ALL kids. Our students with social, emotional, or learning differencescontinue to be marginalized and oppressed in education. One stark reminder of the gap within the gap is in graduation rates. In 2011-2012, for students with disabilities, LAUSD’s graduation rate was 42.1% compared to 60.8% statewide. This subgroup of students had the lowest graduation rate compared to students with low socioeconomic status and English Language Learners.  With less than half of all students with a learning disability graduating from high school, the special education label can serve to put students on a pathway to prison and poverty or academic success and independent living.

You now have the opportunity to work alongside other community members and educators to help change the reality for our students with social, emotional, or learning differences in Los Angeles. You will receive support from a Manager, Teacher Leadership Development at TFA, support from your Loyola Marymount University certification program, ongoing professional development through TFA and your school district and a community of Special Education corps members throughout your two years to support you in your fight for justice for your students. Welcome!