stressed teacher sitting at desk
Superintendent Tom Horne Says Remedying Teacher Shortages Is Priority

March 16, 2024

By Elizabeth Troutman |

Arizona State Superintendent Tom Horne said Tuesday that his top priority is reversing the teacher shortage in the Grand Canyon State. 

Arizona is facing a serious teacher shortage with more teachers leaving than staying, he said.

“We have got to turn around the situation, bring about equilibrium, so we’re not, we’re not losing more teachers than we’re gaining,” Horne said in his speech to the House Education Committee. “We cannot continue doing that.”

Horne said teacher shortages are a “potential catastrophe” that requires immediate attention.

“Currently, we have 60,000 teachers in our classrooms. 8,000 of them are leaving each year,” Horne said. “Our educator preparation programs produce 1,900 per year that actually show up in our classrooms. 2,815 teachers also return to the classrooms. That is a net loss of about 2,300 per year. If that trend were to continue, it would eventually lead to zero teachers.”

His speech also addressed reading proficiency levels. Horne said it’s a “scandal” that some Arizona high schoolers cannot read. 

“Kids go to school day after day, every day throughout the year, eight years,” he said, “and they still can’t read.”

Horne outlined sixteen initiatives to increase academic outcomes in public schools. Some of these include growing the number of school improvement teams, leadership training, paperwork reduction, school safety, using data to improve academic outcomes, and teacher development.

“We entered into an agreement with the leaders of the major companies in our state: we will provide the skilled workers,” he said. “In return, the businesses will either teach our career technical education teachers what skills to teach or will provide people to teach those skills.”

Horne said he supports legislative efforts to raise teacher salaries as well as a bill to require more district and charter administrative support for teacher discipline. Those issues were cited in a recent survey of teachers as the top two reasons for leaving the profession, Horne noted.

Elizabeth Troutman is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send her news tips using this link.

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