We need to #AskDuceyWhy he and other Republican leaders aren’t doing more to keep teachers from leaving Arizona. Headlines proclaim teachers are “fleeing” the state “in droves.” This could lead to a shortage of experienced teachers.
Some of the reasons teachers are leaving are included in a report the Arizona Department of Education recently released. It states, “Without immediate attention to ensure that all Arizona classrooms are guided by effective teachers, who are properly prepared, compensated and respected, our students will not meet their full potential.”
The report further highlights the potential economic impact if this trend continues, stating, “Arizona will not be able to ensure economic prosperity for its citizens and create the workforce of tomorrow.”
In an interview with KJZZ, a Mesa Public School teacher and the Arizona Education Association vice president recently said that he has heard teachers say that they can’t afford to teach here and “districts in other states are recruiting because they know the crisis that we are having.”
It appears that teacher pay is part of our crisis.
The Phoenix Business Journal reported last month that Arizona spends the least amount of money on teacher pay in the country, and Arizona is also at or near the bottom of national lists for classroom instruction spending, per pupil spending and school administration spending.
The ongoing cuts to education funding have already taken a toll that goes beyond teachers leaving the state. If the Republicans continue to neglect funding for education, what might Arizonans expect to see?
- Lower test scores – “The more money invested, the higher the test scores,” said ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy Senior Policy Analyst Dan Huntington.
- Increase in classroom sizes - a former Phoenix Elementary School District governing board member said in a recent interview that the state budget cuts meant schools had to increase their classroom sizes and freeze teacher compensation.
- Student safety impacted – some schools could have to scale back facilities maintenance, security guards and shared nurses.
With so much at stake, why aren’t Republican leaders investing more in education now? We can’t afford to wait.