Educators no longer need college degree to teach in Arizona public schools

A new bill in Arizona is looking to resolve the current teacher shortage in the state. (Source: Arizona's Family)
Published: Jul. 9, 2022 at 10:53 AM AKDT
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PHOENIX (Arizona’s Family/Gray News) - The education requirement for teachers in Arizona has changed.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill earlier this week that a person only needs to be enrolled to get their college degree to begin teaching in public schools.

Arizona’s Family reports it’s a big change, and it’s been met with mixed reactions.

Jens Larson said there was a teacher shortage back when he joined the profession in 2000.

“I was hired as an emergency certified teacher. I had a degree, but I didn’t have the teacher credentials that were needed,” Larson said.

For 14 years, he worked at the Phoenix Union High School District. He said the low pay, lack of respect and resources led him to leave. Since leaving, he started Phoenix Youth Circus Arts Program and continues to work with children.

“I have more fun teaching circus than I do teaching geometry, I have to admit that,” he said.

But this new change, SB 1159, he said, was a stretch.

“The situation will be even worse if you’re dealing with either younger people or even less well-educated people,” Larson said.

Christopher Ramsey, a Phoenix-area teacher, said the new bill could work, but there’s no one-size-fits-all.

“I’m a teacher, and I taught for two years while doing an accelerated master’s program. If you have the right person, it could work,” Ramsey said.

The Arizona Educators Association, or AEA, fought this legislation.

“You have to have some experience. It’s going to allow people to do on-the-job training, and that’s where it’s scary,” Marisol Garcia, the President of the AEA, said.

In response, Kaitlin Harrier, the Senior Education Policy Advisor to the governor, wrote:

“Signing this bill into law furthers Governor Ducey’s pro-education policies by giving schools the flexibility to establish their own locally designed school leadership preparation programs and will allow those without a bachelor’s degree to start training to become a teacher while also completing their degree. This flexibility will help strengthen the teacher talent pipeline, provide the opportunity for more Arizonans to become teachers, and allow for locally driven solutions.”

Garcia said the bill changes the credentialing requirements for public schools. In addition, it brings it in line with charter schools.

More information is available here regarding teachers who are certified by the state.

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