The head of the Arizona Education Association says there’s a growing teacher shortage in the state, and he says, it’s the worst reduction he’s seen yet. President Andrew Morrill says, it’s not a matter of Arizona lacking qualified teachers. He says, because the state continues lacking adequate funding, too many good ones are leaving Arizona for better jobs in other states.

Morrill says the compensation factor is impacting teacher numbers at both ends of the spectrum. At one end, you have teachers who’ve been in the profession for a few years leave because their liveilhoods are in dire straits; at the other end, outstanding teachers with 15 to 20 under their belts quit for the same reason, seeking greater opportunities elsewhere.

Adding to the pain, he says, very few well trained teachers are stepping up to the plate to replace the ones who’ve retired. And Morrill says, forget about elevating experienced substitute teachers to full time because they just don’t have the training for “teaching mastery.”

Morrell says, he sees no light at the end of the tunnel until state lawmakers take the first step in committing more dollars to education. Last week, Governor Doug Ducey announced his plan to increase payouts from the State Land Trust to go into education.

–Barbara Villa