Teacher shortage appears to ease, but special ed spots tough to - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Teacher shortage appears to ease, but special ed spots tough to fill

Recent teacher raises will have an effect on the state's teacher shortage. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News) Recent teacher raises will have an effect on the state's teacher shortage. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News)
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, Diane Douglas. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News) Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, Diane Douglas. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News)
Justin Wing, who is the director of Human Resources for the Washington Elementary School District. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News) Justin Wing, who is the director of Human Resources for the Washington Elementary School District. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News)
School districts across the state appear to have less teacher openings this year. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News) School districts across the state appear to have less teacher openings this year. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

School districts across the state appear to have an easier time filling open teacher positions this year, when compared to last year. But the news is not all positive for districts that are looking for candidates with teaching degrees, and for districts that need to fill special ed spots. That is according to a CBS 5 Investigates survey sent to every school district in Arizona.

"I would say the trend is similar to the last couple of years in that, during the summer, the well is dry," said Justin Wing, who is the director of Human Resources for the Washington Elementary School District.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona schools in crisis]

Wing says his district has nine open teaching positions. Eight of them are special ed positions. Those positions require someone with an education degree.

Washington Elementary and many other districts that responded to the CBS 5 Investigates survey reported that they are increasingly relying on alternatively certified teachers, which are certified by the state department of education, but not graduates of college education programs.

"Now, our challenge is supporting these individuals who, some have never been in a classroom before," said Wing.

Roughly 40 districts responded to the CBS 5 survey. They totaled 200 open positions, as of last week. Many districts reported having zero openings. Others reported dozens of openings.

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, Diane Douglas, says she believes the recently-funded teacher raises will have an effect on the state's shortage.

[RELATED: Board of Education holds off on discussing discipline for teachers who walked out]

"I have to believe this is going to help the situation for our teachers," said Douglas.

Douglas says the extra money may also show educators that they are appreciated.

During her tenure, Douglas says she took part in 60 town halls at schools across the state. She said teachers and parents relayed the need to for increased teacher compensation.

It may take years for the number of teachers with college degrees in education to increase, because there are fewer students taking part in those programs at the state's universities. But Wing says the raises have already helped with teacher retention. Some teachers who were planning to retire are, staying on instead. The raises will increase their retirement packages, so they have an incentive to stay.

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Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards, two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award, and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. In October 2016, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School at Purdue University Global. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

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