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Arizona Is the Latest State to Drop Teacher Training and Experience Requirements

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has signed new legislation that promises to make sweeping changes to the state's teaching corps, allowing districts to hire educators without any formal teaching training or experience.

Senate Bill 1042, similar to laws recently passed in Oklahoma and Utah, allows for prospective educators to enter the classroom if they have five years of experience in fields "relevant" to the subject area they plan to teach. The bill leaves it up to each district to decide whether a candidate's work experience is sufficient. Like in Utah and Oklahoma, Arizona officials cite teacher shortages as the impetus for the move.

"No longer will an outdated process keep qualified, dedicated individuals out of the classroom," Gov. Ducey, a Republican, says in a written statement. "Instead, principals will now be empowered to make hiring decisions and attract the best individuals to serve our students."

But the Arizona Education Association, the state affiliate of the National Education Association, doesn't see the bill as a victory for students, but instead as a lowering of the bar that will ultimately damage the quality of the education that Arizona students receive.

"The governor's plan invites people without any preparation and without any classroom experience to educate our children," AEA President Joe Thomas says in a written statement. "By signing this bill, the governor is further burdening our teachers with the additional responsibility of training new, unprepared colleagues how to teach. All this does is set up a churn-and-burn model of low-wage teachers who will continue to leave after a few years, and our children will continue to suffer for the profit of adults."

The AEA argues that a better strategy for addressing the state's teacher shortage is to increase teacher pay.

But it's not just the usual suspects, namely Democrats and teachers' unions, who came out against the bill. Republican Diane Douglas, the state's elected superintendent, also called on the governor to veto the bill, reports the Tucson Citizen.

"Lowering the standards for new teachers is not the way to correct the [teacher shortage]," she says in a prepared statement.


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