By Brenna Bailey
Tucson’s nine major school districts have been busy the last couple months, hiring teachers for the next school year. They have also been busy trying to fill a collective 100 or so teacher vacancies that still exist well into the current school year.
District leaders and policy experts attribute the state’s crisis-level teacher shortage to a number of factors, with Arizona’s failure to adequately fund public education being at the top of the list.
Throwing money at the problem, in the case of public education, isn’t a shot in the dark, according to Jason Freed, the leader of the organization representing educators at Tucson’s largest public school district.
It is absolutely necessary, Freed said, if Arizona ever wants to get out of the many educational quagmires it has dug itself into — one of the most pressing being the teacher shortage the state has been facing for years.
The shortage is a national crisis, but Arizona — one of the worst-funded states in the country, as far as public education goes — has been feeling the negative implications of teacher vacancies more acutely than most, Tucson-area school leaders and education researchers say.
At a local level, Tucson Unified, Tucson’s largest school district, and Sunnyside, the second-largest district, had the most teacher vacancies as of the second week of March. TUSD had 48 and Sunnyside 46, according to data the Arizona Daily Star obtained through a public records request.