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Teachers speak out and they’re not happy

Teachers speak out about working conditions, and they’re not happy.

teachers speak out

For the past decade, the vast majority of Arizona counties have faced a teacher shortage at the beginning of the school year, and as school districts head into the summer many teachers expect more of the same.

A Public Insight Network query asking the state’s schoolteachers why they think Arizona cannot attract or keep teachers brought an outpouring of responses and one thing quickly became very clear: The Arizona teachers who responded to the query are not happy.

Joe Thomas, the president of Arizona Education Association, said the responses look a lot like responses AEA has collected from members in surveys it has done in the past.

“It’s an accurate understanding of the current reality of public school teachers,” Thomas said of the PIN responses.

Cronkite News reached out to at least half of the educators who completed the query, but many were unwilling to talk to a reporter on the record. Almost all said that they feared losing their jobs if they said anything negative about their school or district.

A significant number of teachers did think there was a disconnect between administrators and teaching staff – and respondents said it was negatively impacting their work environments and students. Others said they feel like teachers spend too much time following administrative protocol that takes away from their classroom preparation, and often has them working out-of-contract hours. According to the Arizona Department of Education, the average teacher salary in January 2016 was less than $40,000.

A spokesman for Superintendent Diane Douglas said that is a concern for the Arizona Department of Education, which is working to make teaching a more reasonable profession.

“Right now the best way to get more teachers in the classroom is to pay them … if you pay them, they will teach,” Stefan Swiat said. Matthew Lentz has been an educator for 23 years, and he said the state government is responsible for the teacher shortage.

“There is a shortage because there is a mentality of the state government to discredit, demoralize, and de-fund public education,” Lentz said in his response.

teachers speak out

Many respondents said they consider new state education legislation, like Proposition 123 and voucher program expansion, to be a slap in the face. Prop 123, approved narrowly by voters last year, would dedicate $3.5 billion to education over 10 years, but it leaves it to local schools to decide how to spend the money, which critics say will still leave Arizona trailing most states.

Melissa Girmsheid said in her response that every time legislative decisions regarding education are made without teachers, “it chips away at the professionalism of the teacher profession in Arizona. ”

The AEA’s Thomas said qualified teachers exist – they just have no interest in working in Arizona schools in their current state.

Thomas said that Arizona has more than 90,000 active teacher certifications, and 50,000 classroom vacancies. While some of those certifications belong to administrators, or to people who earned online degrees while living in another state, there is not actually a “teacher shortage,” he said, but the disrespect, low pay and lack of support lead to vacancies in the classroom.

Misty Arthur, director of the Arizona Federation of Teachers, did not respond to the query but offered many of the same concerns in a telephone interview. She said she does not anticipate the teacher shortage to improve this fall because administrators are under-qualified and ill-equipped.

Read The whole article here: Teachers speak out about working conditions, and they’re not happy | Cronkite News