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Arizona’s critical teacher shortage continues for 6th year

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - The school year is underway, but are there enough teachers to fill the classrooms?

Arizona has seen a six-year streak of teacher shortages.

Those vacancies are due to low wages, lack of support and resources.

But recently the state government has loosened some of the requirements to become a teacher.

This could help fill some of the gaps, but at what cost?

The Arizona School Personnel Administration Association (ASPAA) conducted a state-wide survey over the summer.

The results showed there are 2,000 teacher vacancies and over 800special education teacher openings across the state.

ASPAA's president, Susan Lugo, says the lack of teachers is a major crisis and universities are not attracting as many students into teaching positions.

“Some of it is compensation and making sure our teachers are seen as the professionals that they are and providing them an adequate compensation package," said Lugo.

YUHSD says they started the school year with an opening for 18 certified teacher positions including two counselor postings.

Throughout the school year, those openings are filled in by long-term subs or teachers have to fill in during their prep periods.

Lugo says rural areas find it even harder to fill spots because of better support in bigger cities.

“Concentrated different areas have different challenges and the rural areas, they also have their challenges of attracting teachers and being far out from the big city," said Lugo.

ASPAA is also working with universities to create paid-student teaching positions.

Study.com offers a ‘key to the classroom program’ where they donate licenses for its test prep software to help school districts, colleges and nonprofits with getting aspiring teachers on board.

Senior Vice President of Social Impact for Study.com shares what their main goal is.

“What we’re trying to do is eliminate that barrier by providing materials that can really level the playing field. Help our aspiring educators to pass the test and get where we need them which is inside the classroom teaching our students," said Bryson.

Some solutions have been brought to the table to fix the shortage like Governor Doug Ducey doing away with the requirement of having a college degree to become a teacher.

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Jacqueline Aguilar

Jacqueline Aguilar is Yuma native who joined KYMA in January 2022.

Contact her with a story idea at jacqueline.aguilar@kecytv.com.

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