SUNY Cortland has one of the best special education teaching programs in the United States, according to a new ranking by CollegeChoice.net, an online publication dedicated to helping families find the right college.
The College ranked 23rd in the nation in the evaluation, which was based on academic reputation, net tuition, early career earning and acceptance rates.
Ji-Ryun Kim, chair of SUNY Cortland’s Foundations and Social Advocacy Department, said the ranking is good news for an academic program that is constantly evolving.
“We want to teach kids with all kinds of differences, including disability,” Kim said. “Our student-teacher candidates have a lot of knowledge and skills and teaching strategies in teaching kids with specific needs. Also they learn everything about how to teach in general. The basic assumption is that everyone can teach everyone.”
The department is transitioning to the inclusive childhood education (IEC) major, which will prepare teacher candidates for dual certification in childhood education and teaching students with disabilities for grades 1-6, she explained. It replaces the former inclusive special education (ISC) major that offered just a single certification in special education.
The shift means SUNY Cortland IEC majors will be better prepared to teach in a variety of situations.
“Those students are getting general education and special education certifications at the same time within four years,” Kim said. “We believe it’s getting even better and stronger in terms of supporting inclusive philosophy. We hope our teacher candidates can teach all learners with all diversity. That’s the focus of the program.”
SUNY Cortland’s inclusive childhood education major offers student teaching opportunities in urban, suburban and rural settings to further prepare students for careers. The program includes a semester-long student teaching experience with mentors in general and special education.
“We want to teach kids with all kinds of differences, including disability,” Kim said. “Our student-teacher candidates have a lot of knowledge and skills and teaching strategies in teaching kids with specific needs and also they learn everything about how to teach in general. The basic assumption is that everyone can teach everyone.”