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New Special Education Major Added at MLC

The MLC Governing Board, at their February meeting, approved the addition of a special education major at MLC.

As a part of our strategic plan Dr. David Wendler, vice president for academics, was given the responsibility to “investigate the development of an undergraduate special education major.” As a part of that investigation, a committee of the education division became aware of a doctoral study that surveyed WELS principals.  The purpose of the study was to identify principals’ perceptions of, and potential barriers to, the successful implementation of special education services in WELS Lutheran elementary schools (LES). The study revealed that there are students with diagnosed special needs attending our WELS schools. However, the number of available resources and teaching staff with a degree or certification in special education is not sufficient for the successful implementation of special education services in these schools.

The education division then explored possible implementation of a special education major.  Special education has several areas of possible study including learning disabilities, emotional/behavioral disorders, and autism spectrum disorder.  The committee determined that at this time, specialized training in learning disabilities would be the most helpful to our WELS schools.  A possible goal for a special education program would include providing specialized training to graduates who can serve as the special education resource person for a school.  The ideal situation might be to have one regular teacher on a faculty with this specialized training.

Since MLC already has some applicable courses in our curriculum, the curriculum for a special education major studying learning disabilities would require the addition of seven courses.  While special education could be a single major, students would be strongly encouraged to double major in elementary education and special education.  This would enable a graduate who is assigned to teach third and fourth grade to also serve as the school’s special education resource person.  Students could complete the double major in five years without needing to add courses in summer.