« Back to news

AZ Leaders Speak Out About the Statewide Teacher Shortage Crisis

by Expect More Arizona

High-quality teachers are the most important factor to improve student achievement, which is why teacher recruitment and retention, including teacher pay, is a top advocacy priority for Expect More Arizona.

Our schools are struggling to attract and retain teachers in schools across the state. Districts and charter schools reported more than 2,100 teacher vacancies remain this school year, with an additional 2,200 teacher positions filled using alternative certifications. A recent report by Morrison Institute of Public Policy confirmed that high percentages of teachers are leaving the profession within their first few years and that rural and urban schools alike struggle to attract and retain quality educators. Meanwhile, Arizona’s median elementary school teacher salary ranks 50th in the nation.

Arizona students would benefit from policies and funding that enable schools to attract, support, and retain great teachers and principals. This should include things such as increasing teacher compensation, offering opportunities for meaningful professional development, implementing high-quality mentoring and induction programs statewide, and building a strong pipeline of highly effective principals.

Shareholders from across the state agree that we need to come together to address the growing teacher shortage in Arizona. Read their comments below.


“Many young people who have a passion for teaching decide not to become teachers due to the uncertainty and lack of funding for schools and teachers. If Arizona is to have a bright future, it must make a concerted effort to demonstrate to the nation that it supports and funds adequate teacher pay.” — Dr. Linda Elliott-Nelson, Vice President for Learning Services, Arizona Western College in Yuma

 

“Rural schools in Arizona are facing an extreme challenge in recruiting new teachers and then retaining them.  We are focusing our efforts here in Globe on developing a ‘grow your own’ model for teacher recruitment.  We want to help people that already live here become world-class teachers and then keep them here in their hometown.” — Jerry Jennex, Superintendent, Globe Unified School District #1

“In professional sports, recruiters line up to meticulously observe college athletes practice and play in preparation to offer them employment contracts worth millions (and sometimes hundreds of millions) of dollars. Why is such time and money spent to this degree? It is because great players make all of the difference between success and failure.

The business of education is no different. Regardless of how much money is spent on facilities, leadership, etc., the major factor ultimately determining the success of our students is the teacher in the front of the classroom.

Considering this same model, what typically happens to the ‘top of the class’ teachers who are graduating from college? Well, a great majority of the time, they are ‘recruited’ by districts who can offer them the most lucrative contracts. Unfortunately for Arizona, this means that recruitment efforts outside of the State are increasingly fruitless.  Furthermore, retention is now an even bigger challenge given the well documented fact that our districts train teachers such that they are immediately able to obtain a higher paying job in another state within the first three years of their career.

To this end, think of how amazing our classrooms would be if we could only recruit and retain the best teachers coming out of our nation’s colleges over the next ten years. Furthermore, how much longer will it take for Arizonans to realize that, if we want top performing schools, we have to invest in finding and keeping the best teachers.” — Riley Frei, Superintendent, Bullhead City Elementary School District and Colorado River Union High School District

 

“The quality of all our students’ education and their ability to achieve dreams will power the strength of Arizona. The single biggest factor: our teachers. This moment of challenge is our chance to lead the nation to solve a teacher crisis other states will soon face at the scale we do. We must act now to alter our trajectory from a state that is ridiculed, that is unable to attract the best and keep them in front of our students to a state that is a the model, the destination for the creative, hard-working educators, the builders of our democracy and economy.” — Akshai J. Patel, Co-Founder and CEO of Phoenix Collegiate Academy

 

“Hiring is one of the most important jobs we do at Yuma Union High School District. Our top priority is ensuring a great teacher is in each classroom with our students. We honor our teachers and their craft by providing them ongoing professional development opportunities to enrich learning in the classroom. Last year, through our Prop 123 dollars, we were able to give all full-time employees a 5% increase in salary after years of minimal or no raises. It is our hope that the funding of public education can continue to increase so we can incentivize teachers to continue their work with our students and stay in Yuma.” — Toni Badone, Superintendent, Yuma Union High School District

 

“It is important that we as a state recognize the urgent need to serve all students and the vital role quality educators play in their ultimate success. To that end, it is important the we as an Arizona community do all we can to support Arizona’s educators, including finding new ways to increase teacher pay, provide meaningful professional development, and to develop high-quality mentoring programs. These support structures are essential to create a positive disposition of the teaching profession in general and to foster continual teacher growth. Absent these elements, it will continue to be difficult to retain effective teachers for extended periods of time. The retention of quality educators is a huge factor in student success, and they thrive when meaningful mentorships are built and a sense of community has been cultivated with their teachers over multiple years. Ultimately, investing in our teachers is in an investment in our children; current and future generations of students will flourish because of the support we provide today.” — Adrian Ruiz, Executive Director, Espiritu

 

“Good teachers inspire their students to do great things, both inside and outside the classroom. We honor Arizona teachers for the hard work and long hours put it into their jobs as they lead students to a lifelong love of learning. Particularly in light of the statewide teacher shortage, doing all we can to attract and retain great teachers is a statewide and NAU priority.” — Dr. Rita Hartung Cheng, President, Northern Arizona University

 

 

“The most important part of educating our students, improving student performance in the classroom and building Arizona’s future leaders, is recruiting and retaining highly qualified teachers.  Great teachers positively impact our children’s education, which is why it is critically important that we increase funding for our schools so that we may properly compensate our teachers for the extremely important work they do…Arizona’s future economy depends on it!” — Martin Quintana, President & CEO, Friendly House

 

“The right to a public education is reliant on the knowledge and expertise of teachers. An education without teachers is not an education. We must create the professional conditions that retain our best educators. Arizona students deserve a highly qualified and effective teacher in every classroom.” — Jeffrey J. Smith, Superintendent, Balsz School District

 

“An educated workforce is essential to the health of our state both for our present and future. Unless we pay our teachers an adequate wage, our state will continue to experience teacher shortage and attrition, which will affect what and how our children learn. This, in turn, affects what jobs we attract and retain in our state. We cannot have a healthy Arizona without a strong education base.” — Dr. Linda Elliott-Nelson, Chairman of the Board, Arizona Town Hall

 

“Our future is in the hands of our children. Educating our children is our investment in that future.  The professionals in whom we invest our trust, our hopes, and our financial resources are called teachers.  Quality costs more up front, but has a greater return on investment in the long run.  Nowhere is it more true to say that ‘you get what you pay for’ than with education.” — Paul Kulpinski, Partnership Director, LAUNCH Flagstaff

 

“One of the greatest investments we can make in Arizona’s future is to support our schools which includes paying our teachers a wage commensurate to their responsibilities and providing them ongoing professional learning opportunities that meet the needs of teachers along the continuum of practice. For our children to succeed in life they need access to a quality public education which includes a well-prepared, well-supported, and experienced teacher.

Schools are the lifeblood to many of Arizona’s communities, particularly our small and rural schools. They provide a sense of stability for young people. Yet many schools have a revolving door at the front entrance. To attract and retain teachers we need to pay our teachers well and support them. Want to help retain teachers? Provide them with quality professional development opportunities that meet their needs. This means a quality induction and mentoring program for beginning teachers and the opportunity to pursue National Board Certification for experienced teachers. All teachers need access to quality professional learning.

Teaching is a complex job and one that requires a set of skills, knowledge, and dispositions. It takes talented individuals who are committed to their practice and the children they serve. And, as in any profession it takes time to perfect one’s craft which is impossible to do when 42% leave the profession within three years. If businesses had the turnover rates of employees that our schools have they would take the necessary measures to fix the problem. Why are we not willing to do the same for our schools? Today there are over 2000 teacher vacancies. Our children deserve better.” — Kathleen Wiebke, PhD, NBCT, Executive Director, Arizona K12 Center

 

“Next time you read a very inspiring quote on education, stop and think just how much of a profound impact a teacher had on the author of that quote.” — Steve Peru, President & CEO, United Way of Northern Arizona

 

 

 

“Recruitment and retention of quality teachers are the key to increasing student achievement. Being located along the border of Nevada and California, two states who compensate teachers at a much higher rate has severely affected our ability to retain teachers who we’ve recruited and trained: These teachers can often earn tens of thousands of dollars more without ever having to move from their Arizona homes. Add to this the teacher shortage as well as the difficulty we have recruiting teachers to rural Arizona in the first place, and you have a recipe for disaster. As a state Arizona must do more to pay teachers not only what they’re worth, but at a competitive rate with surrounding states.” —Whitney Crow, Superintendent, Mohave Valley Elementary School District

 

“I honestly believe teacher recruitment and retention support the practice of democracy and help us maintain a peaceful society.” — Heather Merrill, Glendale Community College Education Faculty

 

 

 

“The recruitment and retention of teachers is paramount in providing our students a world-class education. We have a full time recruiter whose sole job is to recruit and retain teachers. As we individualize instruction, teacher expertise plays a huge role in providing students lessons that have analysis problem solving and evaluation structures in order to produce students who are college and career ready. Teachers at Cartwright are some of the best-trained teachers in the state of Arizona. Many are National Board Certified. Those who are National Board Certified also receive a $3,000 dollar stipend on their base salary.” — Dr. Jacob A. Chavez, Superintendent, Cartwright School District #83

 

“We’re creating tomorrow’s leaders.  We need to think of how we’ll make a difference with all of our children.” — Nancy Oreshack, Glendale Community College Education Faculty

 
“Through our Arizona Teacher of the Year program and the advocacy opportunities provided to our teacher honorees, the Arizona Educational Foundation demonstrates that it values, respects and trusts teachers. In order for Arizona to recruit and retain top-notch teachers, Arizona’s business, civic and government leaders must also demonstrate that they value, respect and trust teachers by compensating them in a manner that reflects that trust. These leaders must provide them with the support they need to be successful at their job and the respect they deserve to keep them in the teaching profession. And they must do it now.”Bobbie O’Boyle, Executive Director, Arizona Educational Foundation

 

 

“Children are our most precious and valuable resource. Teachers, who personally invest themselves in this precious resource, are worthy of our financial investment. This strengthens our communities and benefits all.” — Max Gonzalez, Executive Vice President, Strategy & Relationship Management, Chicanos Por La Causa

 

 

“Excellent teachers are worth their weight in gold. One way we can hang on to them is by focusing on school quality. Analysis shows our best schools are more likely to retain their teachers, whether they teach in high or low poverty neighborhoods. The impact we see of school quality on teacher retention is one more reason to invest our energy in expanding the work of Arizona’s great schools.”  — Emily Anne Gullickson, J.D., M.Ed., Senior Program Director, A for Arizona

 

 

“I was saddened recently to see a commencement program at a major university with only three education students earning a Master’s degree. What will it take to inspire the next generation of teachers? A salary commensurate with their educational and professional credentials will open the door, but it will take greater respect for the craft of educating children, less hate speech for the efforts they are giving as public servants, and more tangible supports through meaningful policy initiatives to get prospective teachers to enter the school house doors. It will take sustainable inflation funding to retain teachers, and it will take substantive professional growth opportunities to grow teachers.” — Quinn R. Kellis, Ed.D., Superintendent, Madison School District

“At OneTeacher, we know that it’s not enough to just recruit great teachers—we need to help these great teachers find a school that’s an excellent fit for their style, beliefs and qualifications. Teachers deserve an opportunity to grow in a school where their voice is valued and where they receive individualized professional development under a strong school leader who fosters a dynamic instructional culture. For this reason, OneTeacher supports teachers in finding their ‘perfect fit’ school and role in one of Phoenix’s amazing Title I schools.” — Erin Tobin, MPA, Founder and CEO, OneTeacher

 

“Teaching is a noble profession but is becoming less and less attractive. Poor pay, lack of support, and increasing demands contribute to the perception that education is not a viable career choice. For those currently in the classroom, the same factors contribute to burn-out and career changes. To attract and retain high-quality teachers, education leaders must provide more opportunities for teachers to determine what happens at the district, school, and classroom level. The traditional education model needs to change, and teachers must be given the opportunity to lead that change. We have to start being more strategic with the funds we have and spend out of classroom dollars supporting teachers’ ideas and efforts.” — Steve Watson, Maricopa County School Superintendent

 

“BASIS.ed managed charter schools in Arizona are among the highest performing schools in the world, and are ranked as the #1 charter schools in the United States.  There are a number of key factors that play into this success, but chief among those factors is our world class faculty.  In order for BASIS schools to be great, we need to continue to be able to recruit and retain the absolute best teachers, and this is exceedingly difficult given funding levels in Arizona.” — Peter Bezanson, Chief Executive Officer, BASIS.ed

 

“We need the best to help us create problem solvers for the future.” — Lori Walk, Glendale Community College Education, English, and Reading Faculty

 

Making Progress Together

260 organizations

are partnering with us to make education a top priority in Arizona

80 thousand

supporters of the movement for world-class education in Arizona

96 percent

of Arizonans believe all kids deserve a world-class education

Previous Next