Earlier today (February 2, 2023,) Governor Katie Hobbs fulfilled another commitment from her State of the State Address by announcing, via Executive Order, the creation of an Educator Retention Taskforce.
Please click here to read the Executive Order.
The Governor later posted on social media:
We don't have an educator shortage, we have a retention crisis.
I'm creating an Educator Retention Taskforce to make sure Arizona students are taught by highly qualified, diverse individuals at all levels of public education. #Hobbs100
Read more here: https://t.co/IQUddPI23Z pic.twitter.com/TKQNH1N70Q
— Governor Katie Hobbs (@GovernorHobbs) February 2, 2023
This task force, comprised of educators and education policy advocates from across the state will be tasked with compiling a report that makes recommendations on how to better retain qualified and certified instructors in the classroom.
The Executive Order already points out some of the unsurprising reasons for the crisis including:
- The perception among teachers that they are not respected, appreciated or heard.
- The Grand Canyon state ranking near the bottom of the country in teacher salaries.
- The reluctance of 25,000 licensed teachers from coming back into the classroom.
- The high attrition rate of instructors after four years.
- Less than ideal working conditions such as higher than recommended class sizes, poor discipline procedures for unruly students in some schools, and lack of support staff.
It should be noted that while positive steps have been taken under the leadership of former Republican Governor Doug Ducey (the Arizona Teachers Academy) and former Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman (The Arizona Teacher Residency Program and grants to send more counselors and social workers to schools,) to address the recruitment shortfall, the retention problem still plagues the state.
It would not be surprising if the task force recommends the following to help teacher recruitment and retention:
- Higher salaries for instructors.
- Investments in support staff like counselors and instructional assistants. A universal mentoring program for first-year teachers would be nice.
- Reduced class sizes.
- Better facilities and resources (especially those that teachers do not have to pay for out of their own pocket.)
- High behavior standards and discipline protocols in the classroom and school administration.
It is not like this is rocket science here.
The Governor’s team also responded to some of the Blog for Arizona’s questions on the education portion of Ms. Hobb’s proposed budget which includes investments in the very areas that will assist children and help solve some aspects of the teacher retention crisis. The questions and their responses are below.
1) Please tell the readers at least three ways (you can list more) the Governor’s proposed budget is a great improvement in investing in public education funding from the previous Ducey Administration.
“The Executive Budget addresses inequitable school funding mechanisms such as Universal ESA Expansion and Results Based Funding. Universal ESA Expansion is on pace to cost the State of Arizona an additional $2.3 B in the next ten years (Not cumulative). Eliminating these items saves taxpayer dollars from underreported and sparsely monitored programs and allows for reinvestment in public schools. Both Universal ESA Expansion and Results Based Funding tend to direct money toward high-wealth, urban areas of the state and typically neglect low-income and rural areas.
To offer Arizona students a head start on higher education and address the effects of learning loss from the pandemic, the Executive Budget includes $20.5 million for a new Dual Enrollment support and advancement program. This program will provide reimbursements to low-income high school students that enroll in dual enrollment credit.
Currently, each counselor in an Arizona school provides services for more than 700 students on average. That is the highest ratio in the nation and nearly three times the recommended standard. To remedy that situation, the FY 2024 Executive Budget modifies the funding parameters under the school safety program to prioritize the hiring of counselors and social workers.”
2) With the inclusion of the Free and Reduced Lunch weight in the funding formula, does that mean that families will no longer have to provide monies for reduced lunches? Please explain.
“Families will still need to provide funding for lunch costs incurred. The Free and Reduced Price Lunch weight is designed to provide additional funding to low-income schools through basic state aid. It is then the school’s choice of how to utilize this money for operations. The school could use the funds to subsidize lunches, but they are not required to do so.”
3) With regards to the increases in the Dual Credit Programs for schools across the state, does this funding area also provides for junior and senior high school children to take career preparation/apprenticeship dual credit programs? If not here, does it exist in another budget area? Please explain.
“The intent is for the monies to only be utilized for Dual Enrollment purposes. There is a relevant ongoing item in another part of the budget – Career Technical Education District (CTED) Completion Grants funding of $1 million. Monies appropriated for CTED completion grants are intended to help fund program completion for students who complete at least fifty percent of a career technical education program before graduating from high school and who successfully complete the career technical education district program after graduating from high school. The application procedures shall award grant funding only after an eligible student has successfully completed a career technical education district program.”
4) Is there anything not covered in the first six questions that you would like the readers to know about Governor Hobb’s proposed increases in K-12 and Post Secondary Education? Please explain.
“The Executive Budget also includes in FY 2024 a one-time deposit of $14 M to the rural community colleges for supplemental aid which is used to maintain, develop, and operate programming and curriculum, doubling the previous year’s investment.
$40 million to expand the Arizona Promise Program and make higher education more accessible for an additional 10,200 students regardless of financial background or resources.
$40 million to establish a new tuition scholarship program for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival eligible students.
$332.2 million deposit in Building Renewal Grant funding to address crumbling and inadequate school infrastructure.
$198.6 million to retain critical education staff, and increase the Base Support Level for schools by 3.04 percent.
$172.7 million in new school construction for three schools already in progress, construction of nine new schools, as well as land and site condition projects
$15 million to address the enrollment increase for the Arizona Teacher’s Academy.
$10.3 million in restored STEM and workforce aid funding to Maricopa, Pima, and Pinal Community Colleges.
$5 million to support the development of fast and reliable broadband service in schools.”
$4.4 million to increase the state’s funding to students with a developmental disability, emotional disability, mild intellectual disability, or specific learning disability.”
$1 million in one-time funding to develop and implement a plan to conduct in-person inspections of school facilities.”