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Kathy Hoffman says pay is just one part of Arizona’s teacher shortage

PHOENIX – Pay is a major factor in Arizona’s teacher shortage, but it’s far from the only factor, according to Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman.

“It’s really a broad issue,” she said Wednesday on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes Show.

According to a survey conducted in January by the Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association, nearly one quarter of state teacher positions were unfilled.

The survey also found that more than half of the filled positions were taken by educators who do not meet the state’s standard teacher certification requirements.

Hoffman said rural communities have been “hit the hardest by this shortage,” so she’s been building a coalition that includes educators in those areas, county officials and Arizona State University.

“What we’re doing with this rural schools network is coming together to say ‘How can we use technology and video conferencing so if a student doesn’t have a calculus teacher, let’s say, in Payson but they have one in Show Low, how can they access that and get credits for that and make sure that we’re not letting this generation of our students in rural communities fall behind?” she said.

Hoffman said Gov. Doug Ducey’s plan to phase in raises of 20 percent by the 2020 school year addresses only part of what has made it difficult to recruit teachers.

She said rising health care costs and insufficient benefits packages are also part of the problem.

“I have always said that we need to have paid maternity and paternity leave for our young teachers who are starting families, to attract and retain them to the profession,” she said.

Another concern is the large classroom sizes that create high workloads.

“I would love to see more supports in the classroom, whether that be a teacher aid or even a parent volunteer, just getting more people to support our teachers in the classroom so that they can feel successful, feel that the can manage the classroom,” Hoffman said.

“But pay is still one of the fundamental issues that needs to be addressed.”

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