Yesterday, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman discussed charter school transparency, the teacher shortage and her collaboration with the state’s universities at the House State of Education.
“As an educator and speech therapist, I know firsthand that our schools are tasked with more than teaching our students to read, write and take tests. We are preparing them for success in school, at home, in their communities and in their future careers,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman discussed a variety of issues during the House State of Education address, including Arizona’s need for charter school accountability and transparency.
“Any charter expenditure must be in the best interest of the schools and the students they serve. I appreciate the Governor’s recommendation to increase staff at the charter school board,” Hoffman said.
She added, “I think we can all agree there is an intense need for greater transparency and communication which makes this one of the clearest places to get to work.”
Legislators are taking steps to address this issue. State senator Kate Brophy McGee recently sponsored the Charter School Transparency and Accountability Act, Senate Bill 1394.
SB 1394 has Democratic and Republican co-sponsors and is geared to strengthen oversight of Arizona’s charter schools.
“I look forward to a spirited debate from both sides of the aisle for them to get hearings so we can forge bipartisan solutions that deliver fairness and equity for all of our students,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman also touched on the apparent teacher retention and attraction issues Arizona faces.
“Right now, Arizona’s teacher shortage is nothing short of a crisis. Schools only function with the hard work of our teachers, but year after year we have seen the devastating effects of our teachers who have left the profession, or even left the state,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman explained that when there are not enough teachers, students suffer because they oftentimes do not have access to teachers that can guide them through courses that will prepare them for their future endeavors.
In an effort to address the teacher shortage, Governor Ducey called on the Arizona Board of Regents and the public universities and community colleges to create a plan that ensures the next generation of Arizona public school teachers. The Arizona Teachers Academy offers incentives to increase the recruitment and retention of Arizona’s teachers. Graduates of the Arizona Teachers Academy will have their tuition and fees waived in exchange for a commitment to teach in an Arizona public school. Governor Ducey is seeking an expansion of the program this year.
In an effort to ensure Arizona’s K12 and university system stays connected, Hoffman serves on the Board of Regents.
“I think it’s critically important to be someone who is connecting the dots between the various boards whether it be the board of education, the charter school board, the board of regents and the department of education. And so, I do see my role in working with them to help address these [issues],” Hoffman said.
She added, “I have had meetings with some of our universities and their deans of their departments of education and I look forward to continuing those conversations.”