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Arizona Schools For The Deaf And Blind Feel Teacher Shortage

By Stina Sieg
Published: Monday, December 4, 2017 - 3:36pm
Updated: Monday, December 4, 2017 - 3:40pm
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As Arizona grapples with a sweeping teacher shortage, schools for students with hearing and visual disabilities are feeling the crunch. Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind serve around 2,000 students in Tucson and Phoenix, as well as at satellite campus in rural parts of the state.

ASDB has 13 teacher vacancies right now — and will have an additional 21 if the agency’s early education program gets $1.6 million in additional funding, as Gov. Doug Ducey proposes.

Making things more challenging, ASDB spokesman Ryan Ducharme said, is that half of the agency’s teachers will be eligible for full or early retirement in the next five years.

“You know, the teacher shortage is certainly an issue across Arizona,” he said. “For us, it impacts us quite a bit more because there are very few programs that are out there throughout the U.S. for teachers who are looking to pursue deaf education or blind education.”

Ducharme said ASDB is heavily ramping up its efforts to recruit new instructors, including working with teachers on a provisional status as they get the additional schooling needed to work with deaf and blind students.

“We’ve reached out to people who’ve retired to say, ‘Hey, could you come back or be a mentor to some of our newer teachers?' You know, we’re doing everything we can," Ducharme said.

Ducharme added that ASDB is offering bonuses for new teachers — as well as those moving from out of state.