Unfilled teaching jobs in Arizona are at a crisis level, AZ Central reports. There are over 527 job openings, resulting in crowded classrooms. One Phoenix-area district alone had 63 openings.
"Teacher vacancies are a major crisis in our state right now," Kristie Martorelli, the 2012 Arizona Educator of the Year told AZ Central. Martorelli works in the Dysart Unified School District as a reading specialist and education coordinator. "Students have a lack of consistency. They are unable to establish a relationship with a full-time teacher and are unable to grow and feel comfortable in the classroom setting."
Arizona is far from alone. Teacher attrition is a nationwide problem that is disproportionately affecting lower-income public schools.
Claudia Graziano was full of idealism when she began teaching 10th grade English in Redwood City, California, just south of San Francisco. Within weeks, she was overwhelmed and depressed by the social problems and struggling students she was asked to teach. By January, she had quit.
In an Edutopia piece that is both highly personal and full of data and interviews published this spring, Graziano notes that of the 200,000 new teachers that start classes each fall, 22,000 will have quit by the following summer.
"What's more, 37 percent of the education workforce is over fifty and considering retirement, according to the National Education Association," Graziano adds. "Suddenly, you've got a double whammy: tens of thousand of new teachers leaving the profession because they can't take it anymore, and as many or more retiring."
Teacher attrition disproportionately affects low-income communities, where challenging teaching conditions often drive the most experienced teachers to transfer to greener pastures, according to a report released this summer by the Alliance for Excellent Education.
"The monetary cost of teacher attrition pales in comparison to the loss of human potential associated with hard-to-staff schools that disproportionately serve low-income students and students of color," former governor of West Virginia and AEE head Bob Wise said in a press release.
"In these schools, poor learning climates and low achievement often result in students — and teachers — leaving in droves," Wise said.