House Democrats Attempted To Kill Bill Addressing Teacher Shortage

House Democrats Attempted To Kill Bill Addressing Teacher Shortage

By Corinne Murdock |

On Tuesday, House Democrats attempted to kill a Republican-introduced bill to address the teacher shortage.

The bill, HB2428, would allow private universities and colleges to participate in and receive funding from the Arizona Teachers Academy (ATA). Reimbursements for academy scholarships would be capped at the average in-state tuition and fees determined by the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR): currently, about $7,100. The four Democratic members of the House Education Committee opposed the bill.

The bill sponsor, State Rep. Matt Gress (R-LD04), said that there are thousands of students seeking an educational degree currently, noting approximately 3,000 qualified students at Grand Canyon University alone. Gress cited data that approximately 80 percent of these types of students go on to teach in public schools, but not necessarily in Arizona. Gress argued that they should be pulled into Arizona ones.

“It represents a state commitment to addressing our teacher workforce shortage,” said Gress.

ATA helps pay for tuition and fees for state university or community college students, with the contingency that these students commit to one year of teaching in an Arizona public school. 

LEARN MORE ABOUT ATA HERE

Over 3,300 individuals were enrolled in the ATA last year, the largest class since its creation in 2017 under former Gov. Doug Ducey. Enrollment for the past five years totaled nearly 9,300. Scholarships totaled $22.7 million, averaging $7,100 each. Gress’ proposed expansion of the ATA to private institutions may cost an additional $17 million. The ATA funds student-teachers across 16 different graduate and undergraduate programs.

The teacher shortage may soon worsen: over 20,000 teachers qualified for retirement last year, according to the Arizona State Retirement System.

Committee Democrats admitted that the state’s ongoing teacher shortage is urgent. However, they disagreed that public dollars should go into private institutions.

State Rep. Judy Schwiebert (D-LD02) said the state should prioritize public institution students over private ones. She expressed concern that expanding ATA eligibility would disrupt the current waitlist of public university students.

“I feel like our priority needs to be with our public schools that need to be held accountable, and if they’re going to be accountable we need to make sure that we’re providing the funding for them to be able to train as many teachers as they have applications for, and right now they don’t,” said Schwiebert. “We need to make it a priority to further invest in our institutions before we send any money, or if we even should send any money to a private institution that doesn’t require any accountability from the state.”

State Rep. Nancy Gutierrez (D-LD18) concurred, arguing that it wasn’t appropriate to use public funds for private institutions. Gutierrez said the teacher shortage wasn’t due to a lack of accessibility to programs like ATA, it was teachers enduring purportedly low pay and disrespect.

State Rep. Laura Terech (D-LD04) said she didn’t believe this bill was a long-term solution for the shortage.

“I have a fundamental problem with sending public money to private institutions,” said Terech.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

ASU, NAU, UArizona Presidents Salaries, Bonuses Total Over $2.4 Million

ASU, NAU, UArizona Presidents Salaries, Bonuses Total Over $2.4 Million

By Corinne Murdock |

Last week, the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) approved over $2.4 million in salaries and bonuses for all three presidents of the state’s public universities — making them among the highest paid public employees in the state.

Arizona State University (ASU) President Michael Crow received a pay raise of over $38,500, bringing his base salary to over $809,800, as well as a $90,000 bonus. Crow also receives perks: housing, a vehicle allowance, and retirement contributions. ABOR extended his contract through June 2027. 

Northern Arizona University (NAU) President José Luis Cruz Rivera received the largest pay raise of $61,800, bringing his base salary to $576,800, as well as a $75,000 bonus. ABOR extended his contract through June 2025. 

University of Arizona (UArizona) President Robert Robbins received a pay raise of over $37,700, bringing his base salary to over $792,200. Robbins also received a $75,000 bonus. ABOR extended his contract through June 2025 as well. 

The three presidents’ bonuses were contingent on the achievement of various at-risk goals. 

Crow met all three at-risk goals: a strategy to address educational gaps in the state, a plan for the launch of at least one of the five Future Science and Technology Centers in the Fulton Schools of Engineering, and clarifying and documenting the expectations for relationships among ASU’s Teaching, Learning, and Knowledge Enterprises.

For Crow, an additional $150,000 in at-risk compensation goals were proposed for next year, each worth $50,000 if met: design and launch a premium brand for ASU online; develop and launch a plan to move the three core brands of the W.P. Carey School of Business, the Fulton Schools of Engineering, and the Barrett Honors College into three global brands; and design and launch a new Health Futures Strategy that includes a holistic approach around health sciences and launch preparations for the Public Health Technology School. 

Crow also has five at-risk compensation goals through 2024 worth an additional $160,000. These goals will require Crow to demonstrate increased enrollment and student success in adaptive learning courses by offering over 15 courses, with an increase in overall course completion to over 80 percent; increase enrollment of Arizona students and number of graduates by over 10 percent; complete the design of the Global Futures Library with engagement of over 700 faculty members, as well as merge the three schools of the College of Global Futures; build and document enhanced regional collaboration in research; and demonstrate substantial expansion of ASU Digital Prep to at least 150 in-state schools, predominantly rural and underperforming schools.

Cruz Rivera also had three at-risk goals, which he met: a leadership team for NAU, restructured pricing and financial aid along with marketing and recruiting, and a set of goals and objectives to rebrand NAU.

For the upcoming year, Cruz Rivera has $135,000 in at-risk compensation goals aligned with the rebranding and restructuring efforts at NAU, each worth $45,000. Cruz Rivera must develop and implement a “New NAU System” to encompass in-person, online, and hybrid learning modalities, branch campuses, community college partnerships, and engagement with the state’s K-12 system. Cruz Rivera must also transform NAU Online, as well as increase enrollments and enhance career preparation opportunities.

Through 2024, Cruz Rivera is tasked with $120,000 in at-risk compensation goals, each worth $30,000. Cruz Rivera must expand the number of students from working-class families, increase overall graduation rates, and narrow completion gaps for working-class, first-generation, and minority groups; expand the Allied Health Programs and traditional NAU programs into Maricopa, Pima, and Yuma counties as well as distributed learning centers outside these three counties; and increase NAU profile, visibility, and programs for both Latino and Native American communities throughout the state and nationwide.

Robbins also met his three at-risk goals for this year: a new budget model that reduced college and department overhead costs by at least $10 million, a strategy to raise attainment in southern Arizona, and progress toward creating a Center for Advanced Immunology at the PBC.

In the coming year, Robbins faces $135,000 in at-risk compensation goals: secure at least $200 million in initial funding commitment from the state, local government, or private donors by next June for the Center for Advanced Molecular Immunotherapies; develop a plan to centralize responsibility and balance local authority in the university-wide administrative functional areas of Information Technology and Financial and Business Services by next June; and complete the transition of the UArizona Global Campus as an affiliated partner to its final stage under the full authority and oversight of UArizona by next June. 

Then, Robbins faces $120,000 in at-risk compensation goals through the end of 2024: increasing retention by 85.5 percent; leveraging the Washington office of UArizona to increase federal research funding by 10 percent; progressing toward enhancing student experience and outcomes of the UArizona Global Campus; implementing an Information Technology security governance framework; and coordinating a collaborative relationship with ASU and NAU that raises the research potential of the UArizona College of Medicine Phoenix. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

NAU Proposed Students Take 12 ‘Diversity’ Credits, Hides Website Following Backlash

NAU Proposed Students Take 12 ‘Diversity’ Credits, Hides Website Following Backlash

By Corinne Murdock |

Northern Arizona University (NAU) students will have to take a 12-credit general studies program focused on diversity. Following initial reports on their plans, NAU hid the DCCC page behind a university login page. (Archived link here). In doing so, they also blocked access to links leading to the DCCC meeting dates, agendas, and minutes; diversity requirements; how individuals could propose a “Diversity Designation” course; and an outline of their curriculum creation and review processes. 

The Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) approved NAU’s new diversity program last October.

It appears that NAU shielded the DCCC website from the public eye after City Journal reported about the new diversity curriculum. A web cache of the page taken on May 14 allows individuals to see the DCCC website, not an NAU login page. City Journal issued their report on May 24, offering an in-depth assessment on how NAU’s aim for the program was to only include critical theory’s definition of diversity.

NAU also removed DCCC’s notes (archived here) from last September that acknowledged how the level of ambition the undertaking demands. Yet, the DCCC projected that it would cause NAU to take the lead on their competition. 

 “The 12 credits of diversity requirements are unprecedented and puts [sic] NAU at the forefront of higher education,” read the notes.

The initiative is the latest from the Diversity Curriculum Committee (DCC) formed by NAU’s Faculty Senate. The committee declared in their proposal that NAU is lacking in diversity requirements. (Archived link here). 

The DCC explained that students will be required to take three credits in each of the following areas: U.S. Ethnic Diversity, Global Diversity, Indigenous Peoples, and Intersectionality. Within those areas, there will be focuses catered to the arts and humanities, scientific literacy and methods, and social and political worlds. 

More won’t just be required of the students; the DCC proposed that NAU hire a director for the new diversity program; increase hires in Ethnic Studies, Applied Indigenous Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies; establish retention mechanisms for faculty engaged in “diversity objectives;” create a faculty learning community focused on diversity; create a faculty professional development program on diversity curriculum; hire a Chief Diversity Officer; ensure course releases or other compensation for female and minority faculty; require faculty to engage in more diversity work and challenges; and establish a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program within each college in NAU.

NAU plans to initiate a soft launch of their revamped diversity program this fall, with a full launch in fall 2023. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Tuition And Housing Hikes Announced At Arizona’s Three Public Universities

Tuition And Housing Hikes Announced At Arizona’s Three Public Universities

By Terri Jo Neff |

Tuition for the next academic school year is going up at Arizona State University for all students, while tuition hikes at the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University will hit mostly new students, according to the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR).

On Thursday, the ABOR which oversee the state’s three public universities announced higher tuitions and housing costs for residents and non-residents during the 2022-23 school year. All except the UofA will also be increasing the cost of student meal plans.

“The board recognizes any increase in tuition has an impact on Arizona students and families, but we are pleased that the presidents’ proposals included only modest added costs in 2022-23,” ABOR Chair Lyndel Manson said of the hikes. “The proposals demonstrate the joint commitment of the presidents to prioritize Arizona, access and quality while shielding resident students to the greatest extent possible from extraordinary inflationary cost pressures.”

The ABOR’s announcement means existing and new resident students at ASU will be paying 2.5 percent more than this year’s tuition. That works out to $10,978 for undergrads who are Arizona residents and $12,014 for graduate in-state resident students

ASU students who are not residents of Arizona will experience a 4 percent tuition hike, while the ABOR approved a 5 percent hike for international students at ASU. Online students registered at ASU will also notice a 2 percent increase in the cost of each credit hour.

At the UofA, resident students currently in the Guaranteed Tuition Program will not see tuitions go up, but incoming freshman and undergrads whose tuition is not guaranteed will pay $11,535 per year, a two percent increase. UofA grad students who are residents will pay $12,348, which is also up 2 percent.

Non-resident new students and non-resident existing students who are not in one of UofA’s guarantee tuition program  will see tuition rates jump 5.6 percent.  Different tuition rate increases are being implemented for the UofA’s College of Medicine and College of Veterinary Medicine students.

Meanwhile, incoming freshman and graduate students at NAU will be hit with a 3.5 percent tuition increase to $11,024 and $11,390 respectively. The rate boost applies to resident and non-resident students.

Undergraduate course fees at NAU will also be changing for the 2022-23 year. Meanwhile, international students at NAU will experience the biggest tuition hike among the three universities, with increases of 7.2 to 7.4 percent.

But that is not the only economic impact students at Arizona’s public universities will have to contend with for the 2022-23 school year.  The ABOR has upped its housing costs between 3 and 3.5 percent at all three universities.

Any students seeking to utilize a university’s meal plan will also have to fork over more money during the next school year. In addition, ABOR also boosted some mandatory student fees.

According to the ABOR, a person must be able to prove “continuous physical presence in Arizona for at least 12 months immediately preceding the semester of application” to be eligible for resident tuition.

State Still Below Average For Residents With Degrees While Universities Award Record Number Of Them

State Still Below Average For Residents With Degrees While Universities Award Record Number Of Them

By Terri Jo Neff |

Arizona’s three public universities produced more degrees in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020 than in any previous year, but the state continues to lag the national average for the number of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree, according to a report issued by the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR).

The ABOR’s recent College Completion Report shows graduates at Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, and University of Arizona earned a combined 47,531 degrees for FY2020. That represents a 29 percent increase over the last five years and includes 33,973 bachelor’s degrees, of which 21,425 were earned by Arizona resident students.

The report also shows all three universities significantly increased bachelor’s degrees in key STEM fields in FY2020, producing a combined 9,295 bachelor’s degrees, a 61.7 percent increase over the last five years. The universities also awarded substantially more bachelor’s degrees in health fields in 2020 – conferring 2,879 degrees, a 46.6 percent increase over the last five years.

At the same time, students earned 6,086 bachelor’s degrees in Business, far exceeding any other field of study. However, the ABOR report shows there was a decline in bachelor’s degrees awarded in Education by Arizona’s three public universities at only 1,586. There were also declines in the Agriculture & Agriculture Operations degree program as well as Foreign Languages & Linguistics program.

However, Architecture & Related Sciences saw an unexpectedly strong increase at a time when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is reporting the job market for the industry is expected to grow only one percent from 2019 to 2029.

Despite the upbeat focus of the ABOR report, U.S. Census records show only 29 percent of Arizonans hold a bachelor’s degree or more, far short of the national average of 35 percent.

In response, the regents are kicking off the “New Economy Initiative” which seeks to raise Arizona’s competitiveness by increasing educational attainment, “leading to increased prosperity for individuals and Arizona.”

The business plan of the ABOR’s $120 million New Economy Initiative is designed, according to the regents’ website, “to enhance Arizona’s competitiveness with strategic investments in areas of strength at our three public universities. This targeted approach to workforce development in high-value industries will yield a positive return on state investment.”

The website shows the funding includes $46 million for ASU to be used in part to design and launch “the largest center for engineering education and research in the United States” and to grow enrollments to more than 25,000. It also seeks to make metro Phoenix “the leading center for engineer talent production in America.”

NAU has been allocated $22 million to “provide talent in high demand fields with an emphasis on health care programs in regional locations, including mental and behavioral health, to address the state’s needs as highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Meanwhile, UofA would receive $32 million through the New Economy Initiative to enhance medical professional and researcher training, to enhance capacity for students’ careers in national security, space technology, and planetary defense; and to develop Arizona’s only School of Mining into “a world-class leader in mining for the 21st century.”

Other highlights from the ABOR’s FY2020 College Completion Report include the fact a combined 13,558 graduate degrees were conferred in the same period, which represented a record number of master’s (11,387) and doctoral (2,171) degrees.

The most master’s degrees were in the fields of business management, education, engineering, health professions, and public administration, while the greatest numbers of doctoral degrees were in the fields of education, engineering, health, legal professions, and physical sciences.