Finding qualified teachers is a struggle that Arizona school districts say is worse this year than ever before. Districts across the valley are trying to solve this issue by thinking of new ways to find applicants.
With enrollment higher this year than ever before, Adriana Brannan, the Director at Anderson Preparatory Academy, turned to social media for help.
“We just put ads out where ever we can, we have some girls also in college classes, so we send flyers out with them, we go to Craigslist, we just went through indeed.com. We’ve got one of our teachers off of our other teachers Facebook,” Brennan said.
Brannan says this new recruitment has been working surprisingly well and the teachers are staying. Andrew Morrill, President of the Arizona Education Association and former English teacher is concerned about the teacher turnover rate.
“It’s troubling to see how hard our districts have to work to bring teachers in and keep them. I think districts are being very resourceful, I think school districts are taking advantage of all available means exploring the social media outlets and ways to share their need for great teachers across the country,” Morrill said.
“[I met a guy] who had a K-12 certificate for a while, he left the classroom to go work at Sushi RA, behind the bar where he could make more money than he was making as a classroom teacher. And this is the kind of challenge and crisis that Arizona is dealing with,” Morrill said. “Arizona’s annual salary for teachers is far below the national average.”
But how do you know these ways of recruiting teachers are finding qualified applicants? Brannan explains that going through social media and craigslist is just the first step. The process really begins after the application is received.
“We have to go through all their references. They do have to have their fingerprint card. They have to be legit to start working here. But just calling and looking up their jobs that they say they were in [and] looking up what kind of school it was [that they worked for],” Brannan said.
Having a family with three kids, Brannan hopes that the pay for teachers will change soon so that retention will no longer be an issue. Morrill wants it to change immediately.
“We have a special election on May 17th that will help change the course, if the voters will approve Prop 123. It’s our first funding step, [but] then what’s the second? That’s what we need to determine and we need to determine that as fast as possible.”