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Ducey signs bill to ease regulations on teacher credentials

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Come this summer, school superintendents and principals will be able to hire people without formal training to teach in their classrooms.

Gov. Doug Ducey on May 2 signed legislation to create new exceptions to laws that generally allow traditional public schools to hire people who have gone through traditional teacher training.

There already are some exceptions which allow people to enter the classroom while they get their certification. But the governor has argued these portals are not wide enough.

Ducey also contends the change in the law will help alleviate the shortage of teachers.

“No longer will an outdated process keep qualified, dedicated individuals out of the classroom,” the governor said in a prepared statement. “Instead, principals will now be empowered to make hiring decisions and attract the best individuals to serve our students.”

That contention has been battled by Democrats and some teacher groups who have argued the answer lies not in lowering standards but making the profession more attractive. That includes higher salaries.

“The governor’s plan invites people without any preparation and without any classroom experience to educate our children,” said Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association. And he argued in his statement the infusion of new teachers without proper training actually will harm what already takes place in schools.

By signing this bill, the governor is further burdening our teachers with the additional responsibility of training new, unprepared colleagues how to teach,” Thomas said. ” All this does is set up a churn-and-burn model of low-wage teachers who will continue to leave after a few years, and our children will continue to suffer for the profit of adults.”

But it’s not just the Democrats who sought a veto. State schools chief Diane Douglas also said the legislation is a mistake.

“In my opinion, lowering the standards for new teachers is not the way to correct the problem,” she said in a prepared statement. More to the point, Douglas said there already are alternate pathways to become a teacher.

Douglas, a former member of the Peoria Unified School District governing board, also said that having knowledge of a specific specialty or discipline does not necessarily mean the ability to actually impart that wisdom to a class full of students.

The school superintendent also has lined up against Ducey on the issue of not just pay for teachers but how to fund that.

Both Douglas and Ducey support extending the 0.6-cent sales tax first approved by voters in 2000. It raises close to $600 million a year.

Without either legislative action or a public vote, that will expire in 2020.

The governor, however, once again reaffirmed this week he is not interested in expanding the levy. Instead he said one way of getting more money to teachers would be to reallocate how the proceeds are divided.

That, however, would mean taking revenues away from others who have benefited from the tax, including universities and community colleges.

Douglas, by contrast, said boosting the levy to a full penny would raise an additional $400 million. And she said if all of those new dollars are earmarked for teacher pay that could mean an 11 percent increase in salaries.

Ducey had originally proposed a 2 percent increase, but phased in at 0.4 percent for the next five years. That has so far proven politically unpalatable to most lawmakers who are currently looking at condensing the time frame to just two years, one percent immediately and an additional percent next school year.

The governor on Tuesday signed separate legislation that expands an existing loan forgiveness program for people who go into teaching.

Current law earmarks the program for those who go to schools in areas experiencing a teacher shortage. The new law alters that to focus on those who teach in a public school that is low-income, rural or located on an Indian reservation.

Loan forgiveness also would be available to not only those who go through traditional teacher training programs but pursue certification through alternate programs.

9 comments

  1. And it continues…..

    Look out, Mississippi and Alabama. We are going to capture that trophy yet.

    More power to Call Centers, the future of Arizona!

  2. Arizona is already 48th in the nation for teacher pay, among the worst for teacher:student ratio, and we have a massive teacher shortage. SO…the solution, obviously, is to just hire uncredentialed people to teach our kids! Great idea, guys! Along with the massive handover of taxpayer funds to private schools last month (thanks AZ Republicans!) it looks like we’re going to win that race to the bottom soon… are we sick of winning yet? I know I am. Oh, and that last sentence, about forgiving teachers’ student loans? Ed Secretary DeVos is doing away with those, right? http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/04/05/522575533/teachers-lawyers-and-others-worry-about-the-fate-of-student-debt-forgiveness So that’s not likely to happen.

  3. The fact the article makes no mention of what the changes actually are says a lot about the author. It would seem that an article about the law signed would have some information about the signing of the law. The biggest difference the change is that highly qualified professionals who do no have teaching degrees can get fast tracked to certification. The only reason anyone should see this as a downside is to protect the teaching degree rather than actual education. There are people with far greater education, particularly in secondary education, than teachers that currently are not allowed to teach precisely because they actually pursued those fields rather than spend the time in the classroom. It would seem incredibly beneficial to get some of these folks in the classroom.
    But instead, we hide the truth from the public so we can manipulate them into reaction without knowledge. It’s like we’re afraid of the truth.

  4. @Rick

    Your argument is predicated on the assumption that content knowledge is a far greater component of teacher quality than it actually is. Content knowledge is, of course important but contributes much less to student achievement outcomes than pedagogical content knowledge and teaching experience (Darling-Hammond, 2000), even at the high school level. The effect becomes more pronounced as you move down the grade ladder. You wouldn’t want a historian with no teaching experience to teach your history course just as you wouldn’t want a biologist with expertise in human anatomy but with no surgical experience to perform your bypass surgery.

  5. It is a step in the right direction, given the right control with qualified hiring processes to ensure that professionals with top-notch teaching skill get into the classrooms. I am a retired attorney with 10+ years of teaching experience, including serving as English Program Director for an elite private academy for nearly 8 years. My New Jersey Certificate of Eligibility is given zero consideration for any form of reciprocity here in Arizona, putting me at square-one as an unqualified applicant despite my proven record of dedication and progress with students of a wide range of abilities and aptitudes. I am excited to see that the state is at least attempting to consider what’s best here.

  6. My concern is what makes Ducey think people in various fields would give up their salary for lower pay? Also is he looking to fill the position with retirees to add to thir retirement salary? lastly please explain to me.. He changed the requirements so now who will be responsible for training the new hires who don’t have experience? Is that going to be the job of fellow teachers? Does he really think that is fair? please explain to me how he justifies paying the teacher with no teacher training and a teacher who just spent 4 months in teacher training and student teaching the same salary? Hmm I think he will win the first to place last in education award and the first place in AZ with highest rate of teachers leaving the profession!!

    I think we should give all the legislators a .4% of 1 % raise over the next four years and share the wealth .. Maybe we can all go on a cruise together!!!!

  7. My teacher certification expired 4 years ago. I went through ASU to get certified and spent $30,000. I taught in AZ for three years and have been teaching abroad for the last 10 years, However, my teaching abroad is not recognized, although it was public school and university levels.

    I’m not a job hopper. I have only been with two different employers in 10 years.

    I’m being told that I have to start from square one, as if I never had any teacher training or teaching experience. This is a travesty. No wonder AZ has a teacher shortage.

    I could understand working under a probationary program that would allow a year to get any new requirements done, but not starting all over again?

    I have maintained my teaching skills by actively teaching full-time, attending educational seminars, workshops, getting other certifications and being a member of a professional teachers association, all while teaching abroad.

    Yet, none of that matters in trying to reinstate my certification.

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