The Effects of the Teacher Shortage in Arizona

It is not a secret that Arizona has a teacher shortage. The Arizona turnover rate is at 19% – more than double the national rate at 8%. The state has for a long time recognized the shortage, but no solution has been done anything to lower it. Currently, 28% of teaching positions are vacant. Schools have attempted to temporarily fill these positions through emergency teachers. As a result, 47% of these emergency teachers do not meet the state certification requirements.  The school systems, however, do not find the lack of certification as a high priority issue; deciding to focus more on the 1 in 4 vacant teaching positions.

These shortages are not equal across all schools. Public schools bear most of the shortages while online schools have seen an increase in teachers by 137%. Certain regions have felt greater impact such as high poverty areas, special education classrooms, ESL/ELL classrooms, and rural areas such as the Navajo Nation. Leading these statistics to result in Black and Brown students being significantly more impacted by the lack of teachers

This pandemic has inflated these issues; affected our schools, teachers, and the quality of our education heavily. At the start of the pandemic, there was a fear of a mass exodus of teachers due to the difficult conditions. Thankfully, retention rates have not changed significantly. However, where we did see a loss is among the students themselves. In this past year: 55,000 students have left public schools and only 18,000 have rejoined through charter/online schools. This means there are potentially 37,000 students who are not receiving any education.

Once again, all these statistics are not equal across schools in Arizona. Black and Brown students are being impacted by the lack of teachers in schools and while schools try to fill current vacancies, more are opening. On average, 42% of teachers leave Arizona schools within 3 years. It appears that the teacher shortage will not close any time soon, but there are Arizona Non-profits working to fix this issue.

Organizations like Keep Teacher Teaching (KTT) focus on teacher retention through finances! 52% of teachers report having financial difficulties and many leave teaching positions in Arizona due to lack of pay and support. KTT supports teachers through financial assistance for classrooms and personal expenses. They also have a program that supports AZ high school students who are interested in becoming Educators. Programs such as these are important to ending the teacher shortage in Arizona. Access to Education in Arizona can not be done without ensuring that our teachers are supported.