Arizona struggles to combat teacher shortage

Why doesn't Arizona prioritize education.

PHOENIX - Teachers are leaving their jobs in Arizona faster than they can be replaced, according to a Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association survey conducted the end of 2016.

But why are our teachers quitting?

"I think we just don't prioritize public education," said Julie Bacon, president of the Arizona School Board Association.

Bacon comes from a long line of educators. Her daughter continued the legacy by becoming a teacher, but not in Arizona.

"She doesn't think teachers are supported in Arizona," said Bacon.

She's not alone. Right now, there are more than 2,000 open teacher positions in the state.

Only some will be filled -- many with under-qualified employees.

The problem isn't exactly that we have a shortage of teachers in our state.

"We don't have a shortage of people who are certified to teach," said Diane Douglas, state superintendent of public instruction. "We have a shortage of people who are choosing to use that certification to teach."

Low pay and low support makes the job unattractive.

So what do we need to fix this problem? Voters may recall Prop 123 as a boost in funding.

"Despite all the money [Prop 123] put into education, (it) still left us $1.5 billion in the red," said Bacon.

But Douglas has a plan.

"It's not a one-answer-fits-all and I think we have to look at a lot ways to do it," Douglas said. "Our new plan is the compensation piece, the support in the classroom piece and the preparation piece."

She calls it the "Arizona Kids Can't Wait" plan.

But it's still not a guarantee teachers will get paid more. The plan recommends a 5 percent raise for teachers. That's up to the districts to decide at the local level, and it's a tough choice considering Arizona ranks near the bottom among U.S. states in K-12 funding year after year.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment