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Arizona Governor Signs Bill Allowing New Teachers to Bypass the State's Regular Requirements

Students in Arizona public schools could have a teacher next school year without traditional teaching experience. In a radical move, Arizona's governor, Doug Ducey (R), signed a bill allowing anybody to teach, regardless of formal teaching training, so long as they have five years of experience in the field they'll be teaching.  

According to The Associated Press, Arizona has been struggling with a shortage of teachers and Ducey believes this is a step in the right direction of expanding opportunities for new "teachers."

"No longer will an outdated process keep qualified, dedicated individuals out of the classroom," Ducey said in the statement to the press.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

Bill 1042 will bypass the state's regular requirements for individuals to obtain basic or standard teaching certificates. Instead "requiring candidates to have taught relevant courses for the last two consecutive years and at least three years at an accredited college-level institution. Candidates would also need to have an academic degree in their subject area or demonstrate expertise through a minimum of five years work experience in that field."

Dubbed by critics of the growing trend as the "warm body law," the state had already allowed non-certified teachers to be hired in math and science fields, but has now opened it up to all subjects.

While Ducey can't be faulted for wanting to find a solution to Arizona's teacher shortage issue, educators who oppose the move feel his good intentions are dangerously misdirected.

"His new law doesn't do anything to spell out what 'relevant experience' actually is, other to be employed in those areas and have a degree. Beyond that, Ducey assumes that experience equals 'great teachers,'" wrote retired Mesa Public Schools teacher Mike McClellan.

McClellan makes an excellent point that just about every teacher on the planet would likely back up: it takes more to teach than simply knowing about a subject.

In recent years, Arizona has seen droves of its teachers flee the state's schools for a number of reasons ranging from low pay and poor classroom resources to rigid guidelines and standardized testing.

Cities across the country from San Francisco to Philadelphia have been struggling with teacher shortages -- especially within the math, science and special education fields. During the 2015-16 school year, 7,700 or about one-third of the credentials and permits issued in California went to teachers who were not fully prepared for their teaching assignments.

Arizona Democrats argued that hiring teachers based only on "emergency" credentials just addresses the problem with a temporary fix. As long as the issues of poor resources and low pay remain, "warm body" teachers will only add to a higher turnover rate once they get fed up and decide to move on.

 

Article by Joel Stice, Education World Contributor

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