A for Arizona Releases Recommendations to address K-12 Workforce Challenges

Phoenix, AZ — A for Arizona released today “Arizona’s Way: Teaching and Leading Talent Pipelines” a policy brief outlining opportunities to increase educator supply and improve the readiness of Arizona’s classroom and school leader talent. There are various labor market factors impacting the ability to recruit and retain qualified teachers and school leaders, yet several solutions exist to address these challenges.

“Teacher supply has been a hot topic in policy and politics for more than two decades, but the current labor market challenges are directly impacting Arizona students,” said Emily Anne Gullickson, Founder and CEO of A for Arizona. “The importance of opening new pathways to the classroom cannot be overstated and the one-size fits all staffing model that worked generations ago must be rethought. Arizona has existing tools that allow schools to recruit a larger pool of teacher candidates and to bring them into high quality training in schools. We need to maximize these opportunities to get more qualified teachers into the classroom now.”

In 2017, the Arizona empowered local school leaders to create Grow Your Own strategies which provided thousands of new and qualified teachers for Arizona’s schools. These reforms also offered targeted strategies that allow school leaders to be more engaged in managing their staffing needs locally versus waiting for education colleges to send them enough new teachers.

Arizona policymakers have set the foundation to allow Arizona’s schools to manage their own talent pipeline. The policy brief highlights how Arizona can expand these strategies to reach more qualified talent:

  • Legislators should expand and amplify existing strategies to be easier to use and available for more positions in education. Locally-initiated Grow Your Own strategies allow school leaders to recruit educated adults with the potential to be great teachers – many already working or volunteering on a school campus – and train them for that school’s specific educational model right on the local K-12 campus. In this model, future educators get real-life, hands-on training and apprentice their way to becoming a classroom teacher.
  • School leaders must take advantage of these Grow Your Own opportunities in larger numbers. Schools still lean on a single and insufficient pipeline of students coming out of traditional education colleges. Casting a wide net for talented and educated adults to become teachers is important when competing for talent in one of the tightest labor markets in history. Schools must help diversify the opportunity to become a teacher or shortages will remain.
  • Local and multi-state training programs and colleges should help schools launch Grow Your Own programs that are authentically local. Where possible, any bureaucracy that has attached itself to these new laws should be eliminated or left to the local school systems to add at their discretion. The State and their regulatory arm at the State Board should not over manage these Grow Your Own opportunities into the type of programs that are not attracting enough teachers now.
  • Rethink staffing and diversify job offerings for existing and new employees. Arizona has the country’s most flexible seat time statute in the country. This allows school leaders to meet the unique needs of today’s students while also meeting the expectations of a new generation of workers.
Read the Policy Brief


About A for Arizona
At A for Arizona, we firmly believe that expanding excellence is our best chance to ensure all K-12 students have access to, and benefit from, high-performing schools and all educational opportunities. We imagine a day where excellence has spread, and failure has fallen away, leaving only the best learning options available for all students.