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Should Arizona change standards to ease teacher shortage?

Posted at 6:52 PM, Apr 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-26 22:20:45-04

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Who's teaching your child?  State lawmakers are moving towards allowing more people to teach who have not trained as teachers if they have a strong background in the subject they want to teach.

It's an effort to relieve the teachers shortage but critics say it drags teaching standards too low.

Districts have already had some ability to hire someone who does not have traditional teacher training but who does have strong skills in high demand subjects like math or science.

The bill in the legislature, SB1042, would open that to almost any professional skills, but critics say it's the wrong way to reduce the teacher shortage.

Even after Arizona school districts hire teachers, they have a hard time convincing them to stay.

State school superintendent Diane Douglas says 40 percent of teachers quit in their first two years.

Now state lawmakers are close to creating a law that would make it easier for people with other professional credentials to move into teachings.

Governor Doug Ducey has said outdated rules have kept qualified people out of the classroom.

Democrats like Tucson State Senator Steve Farley say low pay's the problem not outmoded standards.

On KGUN9's Facebook, viewers like Ruth agreed with the call for higher pay and said "you don't drop the requirements for teachers because you need more teachers.  All that will get you is dumber teachers and dumber students."

Scott said, “Raise their pay.  We are at the lowest level in the nation."

Calvin Baker, the superintendent for the Vail School District, is looking for teachers so far and wide he's recruiting outside the U.S.

"We are specifically targeting Singapore and the Phillipines, “ he says

Calvin Baker says teachers already hired from those countries have done well.  Now he says he welcomes the opportunity to hire people who've done well in their professions and may want to teach.

"We can do that because we are a stable school district with a really high quality teacher training staff; so if we find a quality person who's got good academic and work experience background we can help them become a teacher."

But he thinks changing teacher standards may not work well for small, rural districts without the resources to transform skilled professionals from other fields into teachers.

Vail has set a teacher job fair for this Saturday, April 29.  It runs 10am to 1pm at Desert Sky Middle School, 9850 E. Rankin Loop, Rita Ranch.