Arizona: Acute Teacher Shortage, 22% of Teachers Not Fully Qualified

After years of underfunding public education and diverting money to charters and vouchers, Arizona is coping with an acute teacher shortage.

“On a Saturday in late April, Principal Theresa Nickolich gave her best recruiting pitch to every person who walked in the door.

“Come teach at Clarendon Elementary School in the Osborn School District, she told the candidates at the job fair.

“You’ll be part of a system that will support you. You’ll feel like family in a professional environment built up over years of strong leadership. You will be an anchor of stability for children in need, many of them poor.

“You will have a rewarding career. You will change lives.

“But across from Nickolich stood both her biggest recruiting challenge and an emblem of one of the biggest crises facing public education in Arizona.

“Almost no qualified applicants walked in.

“It was the last job fair of the year in the Osborn district before the quiet summer months. In a school of about two dozen classroom teachers, Nickolich still had five jobs to fill for the fall.

“If Nickolich couldn’t fill her spots with qualified teachers, she would have to turn to teaching interns. Maybe somebody with an emergency teaching credential, maybe somebody who didn’t yet have a teaching certificate. In a dire situation the state could even let her employ a temporary teacher without a college degree.

“The recruiting challenge Nickolich faced that day in April isn’t unique to Osborn, or even to her region. It’s a crisis that school administrators recognize statewide:

“Every spring, thousands of teaching positions open across the state.

“Every spring, fewer qualified people apply to fill them.”

How can “reformers” expect to improve education if they drive people away from teaching?

Of the state’s, 22 percent lacked full qualifications.

“Many in that 22 percent did have a college education and teacher training, but had less than two years in the classroom, a time frame when they don’t qualify for the state’s full credential — a standard certificate.

“Many others lacked even more basic qualifications. Nearly 2,000 had no formal teacher training. Dozens lacked a college degree.

“Parents, educators and advocates argue the proliferation of teachers with less than full credentials harms student performance.”

No kidding.

“Experts frequently place poor teacher pay and low education funding among the primary causes of the shortage. Median pay for Arizona elementary teachers is $40,590 per year, compared with $54,120 nationally. In 2014, Arizona ranked 48th in average per-pupil spending at $7,457, compared with $11,066 nationally.

“For years, state finances reeled from deficits that resulted in cuts to education. Gov. Doug Ducey calls teachers and public schools “winners” in his most recent budget, which allocated $167 million in new money for education and 2 percent teacher raises spread across two years.

“Other factors driving the shortage include stressful working conditions and diminished respect for the profession. The problem has grown as older teachers retire; among the flood of newcomers, many try the profession, then leave shortly after.”

Obviously, Arizona doesn’t care about educating its children. They don’t care about having qualified teachers. They aren’t willing to pay professional salaries. Very sad.

Arizona has placed its bets on choice as a substitute for funding its schools and attracting qualified teachers.

A bad bet.

from novemoore


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