As I was walking and collecting signatures to get my name on the ballot for Peoria Unified School District, I had the opportunity to listen to some of the concerns on the top of teacher’s minds. While pay cuts and salary were still part of this conversation, it was the lack of support, value and training among the top reasons teachers were feeling disrespected.
With 25 percent of our state’s teachers scheduled to retire within the next three years, recruiting and retaining teachers will be crucial to the continued success of the Peoria Unified School District. Teachers are leaving the profession, and leaving Arizona for bigger paychecks, according to a CBS 5 questionnaire sent to Valley school districts and interviews with current and former teachers.
The questionnaire was sent to 40 Valley school districts. The 25 districts that responded reported a total of 1,089 open teaching positions. They include:
• 85 open positions in the Deer Valley Unified School District
• 102 open positions in the Gilbert Unified School District
• 115 open positions in the Peoria Unified School District
Much of what our teachers do on a daily basis to inspire hope and confidence in our youth impacts much of what equates to a successful and thriving community, city and nation. It is in our best interest and that of our students to demonstrate that we value our teachers and are committed to providing the necessary resources and competitive compensation. Our state’s teacher salaries are among the lowest in the country. The state requires so many exams and guidelines that seasoned teachers feel limited in their ability to be innovative. By teaching to a test, we are undermining the creativity of our students versus nurturing it. The most important thing we can do to achieve better academic results is to ensure there is a quality teacher in every classroom, and more importantly, keeping in mind that our teachers’ working conditions are our students’ learning conditions.
Our teachers and students both deserve supportive and innovative environments.
I believe the real problem is not a teacher shortage, but rather an issue with teacher retention. If elected to the PUSD Governing Board, I will work hard to ensure we are focused on supporting our teachers and staff. This means appropriating dollars and resources back into the classroom and establishing a culture of collaboration that is sensitive to emotional currency. A culture where teachers are not only valued and respected, but also where they are part of the solution.
Editor’s note: Mr. Sandoval is a candidate for the PUSD Governing Board.