The Graduate School of Education (GSOE) created the Special Education Scholars Program (SESP) last January in the efforts to address shortages of special education teachers in the Inland Empire.

According to the California Department of Education upwards of 770,000 people up to 22 years of age were given “special education services” from 2017 to 2018, the majority of which were diagnosed with a “specific learning disability,” about 297,000. Speech and language impairments were the second most common disability at around 161,000, and autism stood third at over 112,000 individuals.

To address the growing necessity of special education (SE) teachers, UCR was awarded a grant from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC). $50 million worth of funding were supplied by the 2018-2019 state budget for the “recruitment, preparation, and support of new special education teachers,” which has contributed to CCTC’s “Local Solutions grant program” according to the CCTC website.

According to UCR News, “the Riverside County Office of Education joined forces in 2018 with the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools” and applied for the grant at the time, directing the funds to UCR “to ensure newly trained special education teachers enter the field with the kind of preparation and ongoing guidance” that they will need to succeed.

The program will allow 15 students at maximum to participate, each of which will receive a $5,000 scholarship and a “$20,000 Service Award” to pay off tuition and other fees. The latter will be granted to scholars after specified requirements are met: they must earn both a master’s degree in SE and an Education Specialist Credential; and the Scholar must work as an SE teacher for four years in either the San Bernardino or Riverside County.

SESP applicants will begin the program in the Fall 2019 quarter. More information on the program can be found online, as well as an RSVP link for a webinar info session Monday, Feb. 25. The deadline to apply for the program is Mar. 22, 2019.