By Valerie Strauss May 14, 2017
New legislation signed into law in Arizona by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey (R) will allow teachers to be hired with no formal teaching training, as long as they have five years of experience in fields “relevant” to the subject they are teaching. What’s “relevant” isn’t clear.
The Arizona law is part of a disturbing trend nationwide to allow teachers without certification or even any teacher preparation to be hired and put immediately to work in the classroom in large part to help close persistent teacher shortages. It plays into a misconception that anyone can teach if they know a particular subject and that it is not really necessary to first learn about curriculum, classroom management and instruction.
The legislation was championed by Ducey, who has described it as a positive change that will entice “great teachers” into the classroom and help alleviate Arizona’s teacher shortages.
The state has been struggling with severe shortages as thousands of teachers have left the state in recent years for reasons including low pay, insufficient classroom resources, and so many testing requirements and teaching guidelines that they feel they have no flexibility and too little authentic instructional time.
A new analysis by the National Education Association found Arizona near the bottom of a state list of spending per student in 2015-2016, the latest data available. The U.S. average per-student expenditure was $11,787; Vermont had the highest, $23,557, and Arizona was near the bottom, $7,566. Teachers’ salaries in Arizona were in the bottom 20 percent of states.
Arizona had previously allowed non-certified teachers to be hired in fields such as math and science, but this new law opens the door across subject lines.