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Arizona Is Turning to Veterans for Help in the Classroom

A massive teacher shortage in Arizona has led to a creative solution from educational leaders. The state is looking to veterans to fill any gaps as full-time substitute teachers. The initiative pays for training to any veteran who has a bachelor’s degree.

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Collaborative Effort

With nearly 3,000 teaching vacancies in over 230 school districts, Arizona has a huge gap to fill by the time school starts in the fall of 2016. Veterans Reach To Teach is the program in charge of putting veterans in touch with educational resources to get their certification. The group says substitutes can teach as much or as little as they want once they are certified for the 2016-2017 school year. An event in early May 2016 in Phoenix kicked off the initiative.

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Special Guests

The event featured Alan “AP” Powell, an Army veteran of Operation Desert Storm, who is in charge of the Checkered Flag Run Foundation. His foundation coordinates with Veterans Reach To Teach to match veterans with opportunities. Powell said teacher shortages impact the quality of education in Arizona since educators lose preparation periods because they have to make up for lost teaching hours required by the state. A group of quality substitutes takes the pressure away from combined classrooms with multiple teachers that occur due to the shortage.

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Why Arizona?

Arizona is home to approximately 532,000 veterans. Any vets who qualify in the summer of 2016 should be ready to teach by Aug. 1, 2016. Thousands of teachers left Arizona for other states for a variety reasons, including low pay, lack of classroom resources and too many testing requirements. Arizona ranks toward the bottom of all states in terms of money spent per student at $7,208. The national average is $10,700 per student.

Filling teacher vacancies with veterans provides an immediate solution to two problems in Arizona: veteran unemployment and a lack of teachers. Veterans as teachers helps prepare kids for future success and alleviates a problem in Arizona's overburdened classrooms. Do your part to help provide job training for veterans across the country.

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