School leaders say better pay would attract teachers and prevent them from seeking other lucrative careers. Without competitive pay, the shortage continues.
They’re calling for the legislature to increase public K-12 education funding after an Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association survey of 150 public district and charter schools found that Arizona schools had 1,443.66 open teaching positions by Aug. 30, 2019, and many schools hired long-term substitute teachers to fill that gap.
“Increased funding is critical as there are simply not enough teachers to fill the openings in Arizona,” said Dr. David Woodall, superintendent of Morenci Unified School District. “Current salaries and benefits are not sufficient to attract teachers into the profession.”
Ann Palmer, a reading teacher, said, “We do not have a teacher shortage, we have highly educated professionals who can make more money doing less work in other fields. When Arizona pays teachers what they are worth and working conditions improve (i.e. toilet paper and soap in the bathroom) you will find many teachers.”
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Why increased education funding is key
Increasing teacher pay is essential to school leaders ability to attract high-quality teachers, said Chris Kotterman, director of governmental relations for Arizona School Boards Association.
“We’re at a point now where it’s so bad that people just aren’t willing to do it for the amount of money that we pay. That will become very, very problematic in a short period of time,” Kotterman said.