Caught in the Cross-Fire: The Psychological and Emotional Impact of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Upon Teachers of Children with Disabilities, a Therapeutic Jurisprudence Analysis
64 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2012
Date Written: September 16, 2012
This paper addresses the psychological and emotional consequences of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for public school teachers in the United States as viewed through the lens of Therapeutic Jurisprudence. Therapeutic Jurisprudence was founded in the 1990s as an interdisciplinary approach to evaluating how law acts as a therapeutic agent upon those who engage in its context. It calls for the study of such consequences to ascertain whether the law’s anti-therapeutic effects can be lessened, and its therapeutic effects increased, without subordinating due process and other values associated with justice. In the context of Special Education Law, for more than two decades educational researchers and policy makers have wrestled with the reality that a critical shortage of qualified special education teachers has existed in the United States. The inability to recruit and retain a sufficient number of qualified special education teachers threatens the ability of our educational system to provide a free and appropriate public education to children with disabilities as required by the IDEA. In that regard, there is widespread dissatisfaction among special education teachers. The root causes of this dissatisfaction and the psychological and emotional consequences flowing there from are identified and evaluated through macro and micro constructs.
The most essential prerequisite to a student receiving an appropriate education is having a qualified, skilled, and dedicated teacher. The continuation of significant systemic dysfunction in public education leading to teacher dissatisfaction threatens the right of our nation’s children to be taught by highly qualified teachers. The critical shortage of qualified special education teachers has continued for too long, and the problem will continue to obstruct the goal of providing children with a free and appropriate public education until the root causes are addressed by educators, politicians, and parents in public policy and practice, and throughout all of the areas impacting a teacher’s career, from teacher education to teacher induction, and from teacher induction to continuing professional development, training, and experience.
Keywords: Therapeutic Jurisprudence, Special Education Law, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), children, disability, teachers, free and appropriate public education, psychological, public policy, education
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