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Arizona schools chief says she will address teacher shortage, workload

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — Kathy Hoffman, the newly elected superintendent of public instruction for Arizona, will not be sworn into her new position until January, but she is already making a list of the issues that she will address once she gets there.

Hoffman, in an interview with KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos on Tuesday, said she will prioritize addressing the state’s ongoing teacher shortage, overgrowing classroom sizes and burdening teacher workload once she is sworn into office.

“I will be elevating the voices of our teachers. They will be included in policy discussions moving forward,” Hoffman said.

“One thing we need to be looking closely at is the teacher shortage. We need to be looking at how can we reduce classroom sizes…and to do that we need to address the teacher shortage,” she added.

“We need to also be examining the teachers’ workload, because when we have teachers with 30 or 40 or more students and they are just drowning in work, that’s hugely contributing to why they won’t want to return to the profession, why they might leave the state if their workload is unmanageable, because teachers want to do right by their students, and if you feel like you’re not able to manage that because your workload is so huge that’s something else we need to be examining.”

Hoffman was called as the winner in the superintendent of public instruction race over Republican Frank Riggs on Monday, nearly a week after the Nov. 6 election took place.

Hoffman, who had been a speech therapist in the Peoria School District, won the race over the experienced politician by more than 54,000 votes when the election was called. She is the first Democrat to hold the job since 1995.

Riggs conceded the race earlier Tuesday, congratulating her in a Facebook post, but pointed to a “well-funded and orchestrated turnout effort that reversed the Election Day results.”

Hoffman said she had not gotten a call from Riggs, but added that she would like to hear from him to thank him for a hard-fought election.

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