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New law allows people without bachelor’s degrees to teach in public schools

Teacher
AP Photo/John Locher
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Teacher Juliana Urtubey, center, works with Brian Avilas, left, and Jesus Calderon Lopez, right, in a class at Kermit R Booker Sr Elementary School Wednesday, May 5, 2021, in Las Vegas. Urtubey is the the 2021 National Teacher of the Year. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has signed a bill into law that allows those without bachelor’s degrees to start teaching in the state’s public schools.

Gov. Doug Ducey has signed a bill into law that allows those without bachelor’s degrees to start teaching in the state’s public schools. Supporters say it’ll boost teacher recruitment in a time when major staff shortages are hampering many districts in the state.

The new law is designed to let teachers begin their classroom careers while still working on their college educations. It only requires that a prospective teacher be enrolled in a degree program in order to be hired.

According to the governor’s office, the law gives Arizona’s K–12 public schools more options in recruiting teachers and administrative staff. The bill’s sponsor, Sun City Republican Sen. Rick Gray, says there’s an urgent need for more teachers in the state and the law opens the door for additional educators.

Critics, however, say it waters down teaching requirements and puts less qualified people in the classroom. It’s opposed by the Arizona Education Association that says the measure would de-professionalize teachers in the state. According to Phoenix Democratic Rep. Kelli Butler, the most effective way to address the teacher shortage is to increase pay and reduce class sizes.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.