Arizona Allows Educators To Teach As Long As They Are Enrolled In College

A new law will attract Arizona educators by allowing college students to serve as full time teachers in the classroom.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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Arizona educators

With less than a month before some district’s school bells ring to signify the first day of the 2022-2023 school year, schools are ravenously scrambling to find qualified educators to fill vacant positions.  Because of the teacher shortage, many states have passed provisional laws to make it easier for schools to attain teachers. In Arizona, educators are now allowed to be hired to teach in public school classrooms, so long as they are enrolled in college, thanks to a new law. 

Fox News reports that last week, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill into law allowing districts to hire individuals as long as they could prove they were enrolled in college. The outlandish-sounding law was enacted as a means to attract new Arizona educators. Like nearly every other state in the nation, Arizona is facing a looming teacher shortage crisis.

Officially known as Senate Bill 1159, Ducey applauded his signage of the bill, asserting that it would attract more teachers, and create more pathways in Arizona education for future teachers. What’s more, he hopes that the new law will attract even more young students to the field if they are allowed to enter a full-time contract with employees before they even finish their schooling. Still, many education advocates are skeptical of the program and how these logistics will work out once these young teacher-trainees are placed full-time, alone, in the classroom.

In actuality, the concept of placing students in the classroom is already practiced across the board. Most states, in fact, require college students to go through some type of program that places them in a school as student teachers. However, in most cases, these student teachers are under the supervision of well-earned Arizona educators. In this case, these young trainees – who haven’t attained their degree or accreditations yet – would be able to serve as a full-time teacher before necessarily proving their ability to do so. 

The President of the Arizona Educators Association, Marisol Garcia, was leery about the governor’s decision to sign the Arizona educator bill into law. He called the act a measure of “on-the-job training” and feels that while this type of real-world experience is necessary, it isn’t always best suited for the children in a learning environment. But others saw it as a solution to a growing problem.

As of February, nearly one-third of all public school classrooms lacked a full-time Arizona educator. While some are criticizing the idea of placing unqualified teachers in the class to teach, it may be the only solution if school districts have no accredited hiring pool to turn to. One Phoenix teacher, Christopher Ramsey, praised the idea, adding the fact that he taught inside a classroom while working towards his master’s degree. 

Arizona educators

As the saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures, there appears to be no reasonable, accurate solution to address the shortage of Arizona educators. The problem has perpetually grown over the years, was exacerbated by the COVID pandemic, and is now leaving districts struggling to operate. Teacher shortages are now the norm, and each state is coming up with its own provisions to keep public schools running.