Educators talk Quality Teaching

In the trade of education, quality teaching has always been a hot button issue.

To recognize quality teachers in Arizona, the Arizona Education nominates a teacher of the year to represent excellent teachers and to give new teacher role models, said Bobby O’Boyle, the executive director of the Arizona Educational Foundation.

The Arizona Educational Foundation is a non-profit corporation which aims “to administer programs that develop and celebrate excellence in PreK-12th grade public education in Arizona through community partnerships,” according to the AEF’s website.

Quality teachers don’t distinguish themselves by a single trait or teaching strategy, but by commitment, adaptability, and great care for students, distinguished teachers say.

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Rural Schools In Dire Need For Educators

Attracting and retaining quality teachers poses a huge problem to Arizona’s rural schools, and there seems to be no easy fix in sight.

While urban areas have no problem filling teacher slots, rural areas often have to settle for mediocre candidates, and so far the Arizona Department of Education seems to have done little to fix this, rural educators say.

Attracting teachers to rural areas is a multi problem issue, said Bill Blong, the executive director of the Arizona Rural School Association, which aims to improve instruction in rural schools.

For one, it is a huge lifestyle change, he said.

In addition to living in rural areas, teachers are often also paid less than those in urban areas, Blong said.

Compared to urban districts, rural schools are neglected not only in Arizona, but on a nationwide level, Blong said.

State lawmakers often apply a principle of one-size fits all when it comes to fixing problems in rural areas, but that just doesn’t work, he added.

The Arizona Department of Education is putting on career fairs to get the word out about rural schools and their need for teachers, but those don’t help at all, said Mohave Valley School District Superintendant Whitney Crow.

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Arizona scores low in teacher preparation

Arizona is lacking policies that enforce proper training of future teachers, a study by the National Council on Teacher Quality found.

In its 2011 State Teacher Policy Yearbook, the nonpartisan research group based in Washington D.C., rated the delivery of well-prepared teachers as a D- in 2011 for Arizona.

Arizona’s score in 2009 was a D.

While officials from the NCTQ say that Arizona lawmakers needs to create policies that screen students entering teacher preparation programs, and to test their academic and teaching aptitudes, educators say that the study is harsh on education facilities because it doesn’t look at all aspects of teacher preparation.

The study does not criticize what higher education institutions are doing, but is taking a closer look at what policies states have in place to ensure teacher quality, said Arthur McKee, the managing director of teacher preparation studies for the National Council on Teacher Quality.

The research is supposed to drive action to get better teachers for children, and also to assist policymakers in the decisions they make, he said.

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UA delays signing Defense Department agreement

A month and a half after missing its original deadline to sign an agreement giving service members tuition assistance, a University of Arizona official says they are closer to resolving the impasse that left many students saying they would have to leave UA.

Both Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University signed the agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense before the original Jan. 1 deadline. Because of problems, some universities were having, DoD set a new deadline of March 30, which UA officials say they hope to meet.

The tuition assistance program grants each student $4,500 per year, according to the Defense Department.

UA South CEO James Shockey, who is facilitating discussions with the Defense Department, anticipates that the paperwork will be completed within the next 10 days.

One reason that UA has so far refused to sign the document is because the language of the document could be interpreted in different ways, Shockey said.

“There is a whole array of issues that weren’t as clearly stated in the MOU as we would have liked,” he said.

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Bill would require scholarship students to pay $2k out of pocket to attend Arizona universities

If one state legislator has his way most Arizona students at public universities will be dishing out more of their own money to get an education.

Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, introduced a bill last week that would require all Arizona residents at public universities prove that they spent $2,000 annually of their own cash regardless the amount of grants or other funding they receive to cover tuition costs.

Why? “I don’t think we should be giving away college degrees totally free,” Kavanagh said.

H.B. 2675 requires every student personally contribute $2,000 to tuition unless they are an NCAA student-athlete or solely merit-based academic scholar. His bill targets those who receive need-based funding help.

Arizona Board of Regents statistics show almost one-third of all undergraduate students pay less than $2,000 a year for tuition through scholarships, grants, and waivers—so they could potentially find their scholarships on the chopping block.

More than 30,376 in-state students pay less than $2,000 a year for their tuition, and Kavanagh wants to change the formula so student who get scholarships for reasons other than just merit, would have to foot a $2,000 tuition bill.

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