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Local teachers discourage teaching careers

Posted at 6:26 PM, Apr 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-13 00:09:39-04
A math program at the U of A got canceled this year after teachers refused to recommend students to pursue careers in education.
 
"I don't want to impoverish people, by having them become a math teacher, or any teacher," said University High School teacher, DeAnna McDonald. 
 
The University of Arizona Center for Recruitment and Retention of Mathematics Teachers was set to host the workshop for high school seniors. Last year, nearly 60 students were referred to the program by their teachers. This year, the center sent out notices to more than 400 educators in Pima County. They did not receive recommendations from a single teacher. 
 
DeAnna McDonald has been an educator for more than 30 years. She teaches statistics at UHS, but can't encourage her students to do the same.
 
When the U of A asked her to recommend students to the teaching workshop, she didn't respond. 
 
"I have referred people to them for many, many years, but not this year."
 
McDonald says she used to be able to stand up for her job.
 
"A couple of months ago, even sooner than that, I had a huge argument with a couple of colleagues and they were saying that they refuse to recommend education to their students because it's undervalued, it's underpaid and it's overworked, and I was adamant that this was the best job in the world."
 
But, this year, she had a change of heart. 
 
"How do you say to a young person in high school, 'I want you to take on college, and I want you to perhaps go into debt, because college is expensive. And then I want you to get out, and I want your yearly salary to be so bad, so low that you're not gonna be able to afford to live."'
 
According to Virginia Bohme at the UA Math Department, teachers said that in the current education climate they could not in good conscience recommend that a person become a math teacher. Bohme worked as a math teacher at Tucson High School for 30 years. 
 
But it's not just math that's taking a hit. Students who are still interested in education as a career may have to proceed at their own risk. 
 
"I can't say to my students anymore that this is a wonderful job when the pay is so bloody terrible."
 
The Center of Recruitment and Retention of Mathematics Teachers is considering high school classroom visits as an alternative to the workshop.