A tool for the Teacher shortage crisis

By Damon Norris

It doesn’t take long for anyone in education to bring up the fact that we are in a crisis that we’ve never faced before. For the last few years, Arizona has been mired in a severe teacher shortage. The Center for Student Achievement, a partner of the Arizona Charter School Association, put together research that showed the extent of the teacher shortage in the western states of California, Utah, Arizona, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho and Washington. You can see the Center’s entire report here.

While people have been arguing and trying to place blame on this crisis for many years as it unfolded, the truth is that it’s complicated and not attributed to one single factor. Instead, there are multiple issues that have led us down this path. I have fielded many calls, emails, and in-person meetings from those who want to know what we as an Association are going to do to help fix this issue, or at least help relieve some of the pressure for our schools.

While a lot of ideas have been tossed around to solve the crisis, we have decided to take action by partnering with Educational Services Inc. ESI is a recruiting company that attends hundreds of jobs fairs across the nation. Our partnership with them allows schools to hire high quality teachers through their FlexTeach Program, while saving the schools money on travel and job fair expenses. We understand the focus needs to be on the school, and know that charter operators often wear multiple hats, which means sometimes it’s not feasible to travel all over to recruit a teacher. Instead, for far less than a single recruiting trip, schools have access to hundreds, if not thousands of teachers that want to come to Arizona and teach.

In addition, ESI and the Association have partnered together to bring a full-featured career center to Arizona charter schools. The Arizona Marketplace Career Center allows schools to post open positions, while teachers can share their resumes. This is a unique career center just for the charter educational field.  Charter Schools are able to post jobs from administration to teaching, and reach their desired audience. ESI and the Association worked hard to create this and ensure that it would be free to all teachers and charter schools!

The partnership and the career center are not fixes for the crisis we find ourselves in. The response to the crisis is a much more complicated. However, the Association and ESI wanted to build a bridge to help get schools to a better position, while allowing schools to save money on travel that often runs in the tens of thousands of dollars and doesn’t guarantee any leads or accepted offers.

The new career center will help close the gap and answer a demand for Charter schools. If you have questions or comments, please reach out to me at damon@azcharters.org.