School still struggling with teacher shortage

The Payson Roundup reported that Rim Country schools continue to cope with the ongoing teacher shortage, despite recent pay raises.

Gov. Doug Ducey vowed to make education a top priority in his second term, boosted by a projected $1 billion state budget surplus this year. Last year, he pushed through enough money to fund a roughly 10 percent teacher pay raise — with enough money for another 10 percent raise this year. However, this will still leave Arizona with amongst the lowest teacher salaries and biggest class sizes in the nation.

Last year, 913 teachers simply quit in the first half of the school year. A shocking 42 percent of traditional public school and 52 percent charter school teachers quit within three years of starting the profession between 2013 and 2016, according to a report by Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University.

The Arizona Legislature responded to the teacher shortage by essentially waiving previous teacher training requirement, making it easier to grant an “emergency credential” to someone without any teacher training at all or allowing teachers to take on subjects outside their training. This increased the number of teachers without the normal training, but didn’t do much to reduce the shortage.

At Payson High School, 23 percent of the teachers ranked as inexperienced and 20 percent were teaching outside their field or on an emergency credential in the statistics reported as part of the state department of education’s school report card for 2018. Still, Payson fares better when it comes to teacher experience than many other school districts, despite larger classes and lower wages than the state average.