Chatting With Chapey
By Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey
Call for Speech-Language Pathologists
Shortage areas for teachers designated by the State Education Department include Teachers of the Speech and Hearing Handicapped. All providers of speech, language and hearing services must be certified by the New York State Department of Education. Data forwarded to the department of public and private schools, approved providers and State schools indicate that there were a total of 377 positions for Teachers of the Speech and Hearing Handicapped that were funded but vacant because of staff shortages. An additional 408 temporary licenses that were issued in this certification area were not included in the vacancy list. A cause for concern is that effective August 31, 2003 no more temporary licenses will be issued by the State, leaving children without this valuable service. Projections indicate that by 2004-2005 there will be a need for an additional 2,362 Teachers of the Speech and Hearing Handicapped.
On July 17, the Board of Regents approved a new alternative path to certification for clinically trained and professionally licensed Speech Language Pathologists who, while not having training in pedagogy or student teaching, have met the highest standards of specific coursework and clinical training. From August 2002 to February 2004, such professionals who have worked in hospitals or other clinical settings may apply for provisional certification to work in the schools. Before receiving permanent certification such individuals must meet additional required experience, education and examination requirements.
Teachers of the Speech and Hearing Handicapped provide communication and language acquisition services to students who have Individualized Educational Plans (IEP's). These teachers do not provide direct instruction in academic subjects but do provide the foundation skills giving children the primary tools for learning. The early identification of a child's need for speech and/or language therapy can be a determining factor in whether a child succeeds in school, in social situations now and in later life.
Research strongly supports the relationship between early language skills and competency in reading. Since it is well recognized that reading is only the tip of the iceberg, it is essential that children have a rich array of pre-reading experiences and skills before being introduced to a structured reading program. Communication skills form the basis upon which preschool and school-age children develop early literacy competencies necessary for learning to read, to write, to listen and to speak. Reading competency is the union card for children's success in all areas of the curriculum in school. Recognition of the connection between speech and language competency and success in reading and in math, social studies, and science have also resulted in improved self-image and expanded social skills.
Early intervention services by trained clinical speech and language pathologists also results in a dramatic decrease in referrals to special education, fewer inappropriate special education classifications and inappropriate school placements.
In addition to providing direct services to children and education for parents, Speech Language Pathologists are excellent resources for the school's professional development program in the areas of pre-reading, reading and applied communication skills.
Those interested in responding to the call for Speech Language Pathologists may contact the State Education Department, Division of Teaching, 89 Washington Avenue, Albany, New York 12234 for an application for Provisional Certification and then apply to the New York City Board of Education for appointment to a school.