A recently launched program aims to increase the number of qualified teachers at Arizona K-12 public schools by offering tuition waivers for participating students at all three state universities.
Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, first introduced the Arizona Teacher Academy idea in his state-of-the-state address in January. On Tuesday, he announced 230 students enrolled for the first year.
“Teaching is not just a job, it is a noble public service,” said Ducey.
The future teachers sign an agreement to join the academy. For every year they promise to work in Arizona schools, they get a one-year tuition waiver.
Every public university has an option.
- Arizona State University’s program involves a 4-year traditional education degree.
- The University of Arizona offers a one-year Masters-level program for people who want to change careers and seek teaching certificates.
- Northern Arizona University will waive tuition fees for “Develop Your Own Degree in Education” programs at community colleges across the state. NAU students could also choose a one-year teaching certificate program.
“The tuition that would otherwise be used inside the university will be given to these people instead,” Ducey said. “They can graduate debt-free, their tuition is paid, and then a job awaits them.”
Local educators praise the Arizona Teachers Academy concept. According to the Arizona Association of School Personnel Administrators, 1,328 teaching positions were unfilled in Arizona district and charter schools this fall. The shortage of teachers leads to larger class sizes, which has an impact on children.
“With less personalized attention, there is generally a smaller increase in student learning or achievement,” said ASPAA President Jason Hammond Garcia.
School administrators say heads of state have yet to address the root cause of the shortage. Arizona educator salaries rank among the lowest nationally.
“Right now it’s a teacher’s market,” said Hammond Garcia. “Arizona needs to become more competitive with wages, there is no way around that.”
Learn more about the NAU Arizona Teachers Academy here.