Gov. Ducey signs bill to put more teachers in Arizona classrooms - Tucson News Now

Gov. Ducey signs bill to put more teachers in Arizona classrooms

(Source: Tucson News Now) (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Governor Doug Ducey is taking steps to cut down on Arizona’s teacher shortage.

On Tuesday, he signed Senate Bill 1042, which allows people with expertise in their field to obtain a particular certificate to become eligible to teach in schools.

Those candidates will not have to pass the state's regular requirements to obtain basic or standard teaching certificates.

The legislation would allow people who have significant experience in a subject matter, possess a higher education degree and have passed a background check to be certified to teach.

 It essentially gives districts the power to develop programs, like intern programs, to train potential teachers.

Right now, Arizona allows experts in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields to become teachers through a Specialized Teacher Certificate.

This new bill expands this program to experts in other subject matters who have a higher education degree, have taught a relevant course for at least the past two years, and have at least five years experience working in a relevant field.

Parents have mixed feelings about the change and potential fast-track way to get more teachers in the classroom.

“Arizona education is bad and I just think it is going to make it worse,” said Richard Hansen, who has a grandchild in an Arizona school and a son who’s a teacher.

“As long as they do background checks and make sure these people are at least safe to be around children and don’t have any criminal history,” said Candace Chintis. parent. “There are definitely people who are qualified in their field they studied, sometimes even more qualified than teachers who go to school so I don’t see a problem with it.”

The Tucson Unified School District issued the following response on the new bill:

The district will continue to actively recruit diverse potential or certified teachers and to seek to hire the most effective teachers available. We will continue to target individuals who are both traditionally prepared and those admitted into the profession through alternative certification programs. 

We have exceptional teachers currently in our district who seek to make our communities better and love our schools and students. Our students deserve to have great teachers and role models In front of them and in TUSD we would want anyone joining our team to have a heart for students and are committed to making a difference. If the broadened certification opportunities in the state will assist in building access for great teachers, we support that effort. 

– Janet Rico Uhrig, Director of Talent Acquisition and Recruitment 

Meanwhile, local education leaders are speaking out about the bill.

Pima County School Superintendent Dustin Williams called it a "Band-Aid" to the real problem.

The Arizona Department of Education reported there are currently more than 90,000 certified teachers in the state. However, only 60,000 of them are currently teaching. 

"We don’t have a teacher shortage. We have an employment problem where people just don’t want to come into the industry because of the wages. It’s just not livable at this point,” said Williams.

The Tucson Education Association president Jason Freed explained content knowledge is a great thing, but not everyone can teach.

“You have to understand classroom management. You have to understand how to have relationships with kids. Kids will buy into a teacher much faster than buying into a subject,” he explained.

The Arizona Charter School Association supported Gov. Ducey's bill. Its leaders told Tucson News Now public charter schools "embrace the opportunity to build a pipeline of more talented and committed professionals into the K-12 education field.” 

Copyright 2017 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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