In further efforts to deal with the teacher shortage we reported on last week, Arizona has passed a law that lets schools hire anyone who is enrolled to get their college degree. They will still be supervised by full time teachers while in the class with students. The Governor’s office is working to spin this as “expanding training pathways” but even a cursory read of his own press release makes it clear that the core issue is a lack of teachers.

It makes a sort of sense why the legislature decided to go down this road, there aren’t very many options when raising teachers’ salaries does not seem to be on the table. Several states have done it but Arizona seems to be struggling to meet salary promises from even before the pandemic.

The financial benefit of these teachers is that they can be hired at a lower wage, meaning if teachers with years of experience leave teaching this year and are replaced with younger people still in school, the state as a whole will be saving a bit of money on its teachers.

Whether it will attract enough teachers is uncertain right now, but it seems likely that learning will suffer either way, and that probably even more will be put on the shoulders of the teachers who have chosen to stay this long.

It also seems like an especially bad time to expand school vouchers in Arizona, meaning public funding will be diverted away from public schools and towards private schools. The Governor’s office is touting this as the “Most Expansive School Choice Legislation in Recent Memory”, but the hashtag #StopVoucherExpansion has been going consistently since the announcement was made.

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