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Arizona Struggles with Teacher Shortage

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Author: dianeravitch

Arizona has a teacher shortage. School will open soon, and there are at least 1,000 vacancies.

The reason is not hard to find. Low salaries, which results in high teacher turnover. Arizona has been in the forefront of corporate reform. State policymakers want to hire “effective teachers,” but they don’t want to pay a middle-class wage.

“And the situation is likely get worse, with 25 percent of the state’s roughly 60,000 teachers eligible to retire within the next five years, said Cecilia Johnson, the state Education Department’s associate superintendent of highly effective teachers and leaders.

“Heidi Vega, spokeswoman for the Arizona School Boards Association, said there are many factors in play behind the vacancies but, “First of all, of course, the budget.”

“Vega said some teachers haven’t had a raise in six or seven years. The state routinely ranks near the bottom when it comes to per-pupil spending, she noted.

“Johnson said the average salary for a teacher in Arizona is $47,000 – well below the $54,000 national average – and an average starting salary in the state is $32,000.”

With a starting salary of $32,000, the state’s associate superintendent of “highly effective teachers and leaders” will not have many people to supervise.

Most teachers have not had a raise in years. Enrollments in teacher education programs are dropping. Some schools have no one to mentor young teachers.

“Once in the profession, Johnson said, teachers face greater accountability requirements and more demands of their time than they used to. Those demands “require them to take less and less time in teaching what they believe as experts should be taught,” she said.”

What do reformers think when they see stories like this, echoing the situation in many other states? Do they recognize a problem? Do they see a connection between the loss of teachers and their relentless campaign to belittle teachers and blame them for low scores?

Bill Gates used to boast that his data-driven approach to measuring teacher quality would produce an effective teacher in every classroom. How’s that working out, Bill?

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