In 2008, Ed Supe Tom Horne had a great idea to get more science and math teachers in the classroom. Why not have businesses let some of their STEM-based employees teach one high school class a year as part of their job? Brilliant! After Horne's announcement, did you see the stampede of people rushing from the private sector to be volunteer teachers? No, neither did I. I never heard of anyone taking him up on his offer.
The legislature this year had a better idea: let anyone with a bachelor's degree in a subject taught in middle or high school teach, no training, no education classes, no subject matter testing required. And if they've spent time working in a STEM field or teaching in a post-high school institution, the college degree isn't even a requirement.
So how's that working out? It's a little early to tell, but at this point, it looks like
people aren't beating down school districts' administration building doors demanding teaching applications.
A highly-touted law passed by the legislature earlier this year was supposed to help add candidates to the teaching pool. It loosens credentials needed to become a teacher and paves the way for qualified professionals in certain fields to get easier access to classrooms.
Wing said the impact of the law appears minimal so far.
“The Washington Elementary School District has received just a few contacts from some of those related to those certification changes,” said [Justin] Wing, who is now the human resources director for the Washington Elementary School. “From what I hear from other human resource professionals in other school systems, they have not received waves of candidates because of that new law. In my opinion, it didn’t address the root cause of the teacher shortage.”
It's early yet. The word may not have gotten out, and when it does, school districts may still have the opportunity to fill some of their empty classrooms with unqualified, unprepared teachers. But wouldn't it be something if the legislature threw the teacher certification doors open wide and nobody showed up? Teaching in Arizona may be so underpaid and undervalued, broadening the applicant pool won't be much help. Maybe, if the legislators really care about addressing the state's crisis-level teacher shortage, they'll have to try some other ideas, like, say, increasing salaries and improving working conditions . . . if—and it's a big "if"—they really care about addressing the state's crisis-level teacher shortage,.