by David Safier
Don't read any further. Just go to Howard Fischer's article, Arizona 6th worst in the U.S. for teachers. It's all there. However, if you want my take on his story and a quick summary of some of the facts and figures, read on.
Teachers don't go into the profession for the money. I've never heard any teachers, when asked what they do, answer, "I'm a teacher. Ka-ching!" But that's not to say that poor-but-honest teachers wouldn't like to have a little more change in their pockets.
A study reported that Arizona is 44th in its starting salary for teachers, and that accounts for the different standards of living in the states.
Median teacher salaries? Arizona is 48th.
And along with their low salary, Arizona teachers can look forward to bigger class sizes. True, that means more students to love, but ...
Recent reports say more than a third of Arizona's teachers leave every year (A TUSD administrator I spoke to estimated about half of those are retirees, which makes the actual "leavers" more like one in six). Arizona can't replace all of them. Hundreds of classrooms are staffed with long term substitutes, who will be replaced by other long term subs if districts can't find teachers to fill the slots.
I'm sure some of the leaving teachers move on to other professions, though the weak job market isn't exactly encouraging the exodus. But how many of the exiting teachers are finding students to love in other states where they can earn higher salaries, teach fewer kids, and maybe get a few classroom perks like boxes of Kleenex, crayons and — be still, my heart — paper supplied by the district? I don't know the numbers of those who have fled the state, but for teachers who are footloose enough to pack up and go, what could possibly convince them to stay?