PHOENIX — In explaining the reason why he voted in favor of expanding Arizona teacher certifications, Arizona House majority leader John Allen said teachers have a long summer to get a second job.
The Scottsdale Republican disagreed with the notion that the state legislature is responsible for teacher pay, instead saying that when it comes to teacher pay, it is set by the school boards.
According to the National Education Association rankings, Arizona ranked 49th in average salaries for instructional staff in public schools for the 2014-15 school year with an average salary of $45,404.
Allen said on the house floor on Wednesday that the pay has kept up with inflation and that starting salaries and finishing salaries are all over the place.
“What is the big thing about pay? Well, the big thing about pay is that you can not afford the education to become a teacher anymore,” Allen said. “The price for an education in this state and in other states has so astronomically outstripped the economies for these markets, that you come out with your teaching certificate with a BMW payment or a small house payment in order to go into a field that pays very little. This bill helps address some of that.
Allen went onto to add: “The other portion of this is second jobs. There’s a lot of people out there that have second jobs. Most of us in this room have a second job. Good for them. I like seeing when people try to get ahead in life. When they take their God-given talents and make themselves better. That’s America. The idea that we are torturing someone who has a second job is ridiculous.”
The House approved the legislation backed by Gov. Doug Ducey that would change the rules and qualifications for who can become a teacher in the state.
Senate Bill 1042 would allow individuals with expertise in certain areas to obtain a particular certificate to become eligible to teach in schools. Those candidates would bypass the state’s regular requirements to obtain basic or standard teaching certificates.
Advocates say it would allow more qualified teachers to enter classrooms.
Opponents say the legislation would not alleviate the state’s teacher shortage and would lower teacher standards.
The Associated Press contributed to this report