School starts while over 100 teaching jobs still vacant
U.S / Tuscon, Arizona – Tuscon’s biggest school district is facing a teacher shortage as school starts. Tuscon News reported the district still has 125 teaching positions that still requires filling.
This comes on the back of a smaller class size – in an effort to provide better quality teaching and attention to students, the district has reduced class sizes from 32 students to 27 students. With smaller groups per class, more classes are now formed, leading to the need for more teachers.
The shortage of teachers is widespread in Arizona. In the Marana Unified School District where more than 12,000 students attend school, there are (only) five vacancies for teachers in the district. At Sunnyside Unified School District, four teaching positions are still available.
Teacher shortage is not a new problem schools have to grapple with. Nathan O’Neal reported for KVOA last year Tucson Unified School District has 33 positions still unfilled halfway through the school year.
A survey by Scholastic and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation released earlier this year might be able to identify contributors to the shortage situation:
- 83% of teachers felt the constantly changing demands on both themselves and the students was their biggest challenge
- 64% of Arizona teachers most often report limited earning potential as a significant challenge
- 62% felt too-large class sizes was a huge challenge
These results were from an online survey of 345 teachers in Arizona, conducted July 1-22, 2013. The full report can be viewed here.
In a 2013 Teacher Workforce Survey by tusconvalueteachers.org, teacher retention is a huge issue for the state. Teachers also do not want to recommend people they know into the profession.
“Greater than one-fourth (27%) of current teachers indicate they are not likely to be teaching in southern Arizona five years from now and an additional 37% are not sure whether they will remain in the profession within the geographic area. While some of the likely churn can be attributed to those nearing retirement age (42% of teachers 55 years are older are not likely to continue past five years), 23% of those 35 years old or younger do not feel they will have a career teaching in southern Arizona.”
“Continuing to attract new teachers may also be a challenge as current teachers are even less likely to be evangelists for their own profession. Approximately 47% of teachers are “somewhat likely” to recommend the teaching profession in southern Arizona and nearly two out of every five teachers (39%) “not at all likely” to recommend teaching.”