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Arizona Edition: Retaining and encouraging good teachers in Arizona about more than pay

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A recent report on the challenges facing Arizona schools to retain and train good teachers comes with more than bad news about teacher pay and over-crowded classrooms, it also includes suggestions about how to tackle the issues.

A shortage of teachers in Arizona has been mitigated in recent years by a larger reliance on substitutes and quick certification of new instructors, but the Strengthening and Supporting the Teaching Job in Arizona report from the Arizona Community and Steele Foundations suggests Arizona public schools are being shaped by the shortages and a lack of support for current teachers.

Findings include dismal state rankings in student/teacher ratios (50th) and teacher pay (49th) and data shows school districts relying on 30 percent more substitutes since a similar report in 2018.

The new report builds on the findings of the 2018 report and offers strategies for lawmakers and district officials to address challenges based on what is working in other parts of the country and here in the Arizona.

Issues highlighted in 2018 are particularly difficult now – think covid as one of the exacerbating factors. Add in cultural and political rhetoric aimed at American educators and an on-going lack of funding and Arizona has some work to do.

Lorenzo Chavez is Executive Director of Education and Scholarships at the Arizona Community Foundation.

Chavez says the new data backs up what many policy makers and educators had suspected about the state of education in Arizona.

Lou grew up in Tucson and has a long family history in the state of Arizona. He began his public radio career in 1988 at KNAU in Flagstaff as a classical music DJ and has been hooked on public radio since, transitioning to news after trying his hand at several other careers in publishing and commercial broadcasting. Lou has a degree in American Studies from Arizona State University and was KAWC's Morning Edition host for two and half years before becoming News and Operations Director.
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