Teachers in the state of Arizona have had their education requirements modified.
This week, Governor Doug Ducey signed a measure into law that reduces the prerequisite for entering the teaching profession in the state’s public schools to just being enrolled in a college degree program.
According to Arizona’s family, this is a significant shift that has elicited a range of responses.
When Jens Larson entered the field in 2000, he recalled that there was a scarcity of educators. “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.
He had been employed by the Phoenix Union High School District for 14 years before retiring. According to him, he left because of the poor salary, disrespect, and lack of resources. Since he left, he founded the Phoenix Youth Circus Arts Program and continues to engage with young people in the community. “I have more fun teaching circus than I do teaching geometry, I have to admit that,” he said.
Nevertheless, he thought SB 1159 was a mistake. “The situation will be even worse if you’re dealing with either younger people or even less well-educated people,” Larson said.
According to Phoenix-area instructor Christopher Ramsey, there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. “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.”
The teachers’ union, the Arizona Educators Association (AEA), opposed the bill. “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 claims that the law alters the credentials needed by public school employees. This is also in accordance with the charter schools.