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Education candidate Hoffman says teacher shortage is ‘biggest issue’

(Facebook Photo/Kathy Hoffman for Superintendent)

PHOENIX — Kathy Hoffman, the Democratic candidate for Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, said Tuesday that solving the state’s teacher shortage goes beyond improving pay.

Calling the ongoing shortage “the biggest issue facing the state right now,” Hoffman discussed her plan to address it and other education issues with KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos.

A study by the Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association found that nearly a quarter of the state’s teacher jobs remained open at the end of August.

Hoffman, a school speech therapist making her first foray into politics, said in addition to better pay, improvements need to be made in health care and other benefits for teachers.

“One of my stances is, if we provide our teachers with health-care benefits that support their families then it would actually make the teaching profession more competitive with the private sector,” she said.

Hoffman said she’d like to see a more sustainable funding source, but that’s not the only way to improve the education system’s finances.

“What I plan to do when I’m elected is an audit of the Department of Education because I believe having a new administration, we need to start with a clean slate, go line by line through our budget,” she said.

She pointed to the millions of dollars that the Arizona Department of Education had to reimburse after misallocating federal funding for low-income students and special education.

“We need to makes sure we’re not wasting money or misallocating it and make sure that the money we have is already being appropriately allocated,” she said.

Hoffman’s opponent in the Nov. 6 general election is Frank Riggs, who defeated incumbent Diane Douglas and three other candidates in the Republican primary.

Riggs is an Army veteran, former police officer and businessman who served as a U.S. representative from California. He served on the board of a nonprofit that helps fund charter schools for more than a decade.

Hoffman, who defeated David Schapira in the primary, said her five years in the classroom give her the necessary experience for the office she is pursuing.

“It is one thing to be someone who has written the policies in the high offices at the administrative and political level,” she said.

“It’s a completely different thing to be living and breathing the education policies that these politicians are determining.”

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