INTRODUCTION AND ORIENTATION TO THE STUDY
INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY
A large number of special needs educators abandon the teaching profession every year (Duesbery & Werblow, 2008:1; Houchins, Shippen, McKeand, Veil Roma, Jolivette & Guarino, 2010:623; Maniram, 2007:4; Stempien & Loeb, 2002:258; Thornton, Peltier & Medina, 2007:234). Stempien and Loeb (2002:258) have boldly stated that the special needs education sector in particular has been susceptible to losing its well trained educators. Duesbery and Werblow (2008:1) concur that retaining special needs educators is particularly crucial (Houchins et al., 2010:624). Thornton et al. (2007:234) acknowledge that the reasons special needs educators leave the profession are intricate and multifaceted. The shortage of special needs educators is described as an international phenomenon that cannot easily be resolved (Houchins et al., 2010:623, Stempien & Loeb, 2002:258; Thornton et al., 2007:233). There is presently a global focus on inclusion and schools’ accountability measures to close the achievement gap for children with special education needs (Chambers, 2008:1; Duesbery & Werblow, 2008:1). This focus adds to the challenges that face the special needs education sector.
Educators who teach students with special needs are overwhelmed with the changes and unknown demands that occur simultaneously and quickly (National Clearinghouse for professions in Special Education, as cited by Stempien & Loeb, 2002:258; Ingersoll, 2003:5; Richards, 2007:49; Thornton et al., 2007:233). The demands and culture of the special needs education sector have changed dramatically over the past decade and necessitate reflection on existing educational management practices (Maforah, 2004:1; Richards, 2007:49). Results from a survey by Richards (2007:48) in the general-education sector affirm: Principals can benefit from knowing which of their behaviours or attitudes are most valued by teachers.
The high turnover rate of educators in the special needs sector has a negative impact on: effective functioning of special needs facilities; providing high-quality programs; special needs students’ progress and development; and effectively managing these facilities (Chambers, 2008:1; Maniram, 2007:4; Thornton et al., 2007:234).
Data from various studies (Chambers, 2008:1; Emery & Vandenberg, 2010:119; Maniram, 2007:4; Thornton et al., 2007:234) indicate that special needs educators are not satisfied with their jobs. It also points out that the consequences of job satisfaction/dissatisfaction are not effectively handled by special needs education managers (Emery & Vandenberg, 2010:119).
Stempien and Loeb (2002:258) share the views of other researchers, highlighting the fact that retaining and satisfying special needs educators emerged as a major challenge for the 21st century (Ingersoll, 2003:5; Thornton et al., 2007:237). Van Deventer and Kruger (2005:62) state:
Those of us who undertake educational leadership roles in the twenty- first century will need a complex mix of skills relating to leadership of people and enabling colleagues to perform effective educational management skills.
The authors place emphasis on the fact that, the higher the management quality of educators and their tasks, the higher the quality of education at all levels of the system (Kruger & Steinmann, 2005:16). Smith (1994:19) explains: Knowledge of the factors that promote satisfaction may assist the principals and other managers in their management style and thus contribute positively to job satisfaction of the personnel.
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