Survey shows teacher shortage easing, slightly - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Survey shows teacher shortage easing, slightly

Some Arizona school districts are seeing a slight decrease in teacher shortages but they said state leaders aren't helping. (Source: CBS 5) Some Arizona school districts are seeing a slight decrease in teacher shortages but they said state leaders aren't helping. (Source: CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Half of the Arizona school districts that responded to a CBS 5 Investigates survey reported that they are in better shape today than last year, when it comes to open teaching positions. But those same respondents stated their success is not necessarily due to help from state leaders.

"We have a few openings, fewer than we did at this time last year. But give credit to our team being really creative," said Danielle Airey, who is the chief communications officer for the Peoria Unified School District.

[RELATED: Chandler schools having no problem attracting teachers]

Airey says her district has established relationships with Arizona's universities in an effort to attract new graduates. Peoria also targets new teachers who themselves attended Peoria schools.

"A lot of teachers that went to school in our district are coming back to us," said Airey.

[RELATED: Future teachers undeterred by challenges in education]

While 50 percent of the districts reported success in fighting the teacher shortage, 25 percent said there was no change from last year and another 25 percent reported being in worse shape than last year.

"I think that what we have is a teacher crisis," said Joe Thomas, who is president of the Arizona Education Association.

[READ MORE: Report: AZ Teacher retention, recruitment, pay at crisis levels]

He says there are plenty of certified teachers in Arizona. The problem is, they're not willing to teach in the current environment.

"If you go to the Arizona Department of Education, they'll tell you they have about 90,000 teacher certificates on file. We only have about 50, 55,000 teaching positions in the state. So it's not that we don't have enough teachers. The problem is we don't have enough teachers willing to teach in these working conditions," said Thomas.

[RELATED: Gov. Ducey signs bill expanding teacher certifications]

Thomas points to two leading factors that have led to the shortage. They are low salaries and high class sizes.

Across the country, the average public school teacher salary is $58,000. In Arizona, the average is $47,000.

[RELATED: Education group demands better pay for teachers]

"I think a $10,000 raise would really impact people being willing to teach. But on the other side of the coin is you can pay someone money to come in and teach, but if you still have 40 fifth-graders in a classroom, the job is still taxing that individual too much," said Thomas.

[RELATED: School districts struggling to maintain and repair facilities]

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Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards , two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. Last fall, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle, in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is a graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

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