Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Nation's Best High Schools

U.S. News & World Report publishes its report of the Best High Schools broken down into three tiers (Gold, Silver, and Bronze). For 2008, in the Gold Tier (top 100), Arizona placed 13th (Basis School in Tucson), 22nd (University High School in Tucson) and 59th (Northland Preparatory Academy). Perhaps surprisingly two of the three gold schools are charter schools (Basis and Northland). Of the 504 high schools in the Silver tier, 5 are in Arizona and from 1,321 Bronze schools, 6 are in Arizona. Put together this equates to 14 Arizona schools from among 1,925 of the best high schools around the nation.

Catalina Foothills HS (Tucson)
Desert Vista HS (Phoenix/Tempe)
Mountain View HS (Mesa)
Sunnyslope HS (Phoenix/Glendale)
Thunderbird HS (Phoenix/Glendale)

Colorado City HS (Colorado City)
Mayer HS (Mayer)
Ray HS (Kearny)
Sonoran Science Academy (Tucson)
St Johns HS (St Johns)
Vision Charter School (Tucson)

Signs of Life 2 (The Budget Crisis in YUHSD)

In reference to my post yesterday (Signs of Life), where I mention the reluctance of districts to look at staffing their schools, allow me to draw your attention to an article in the Yuma Sun (6/10). The article cites Yuma Union HS Super commenting on what Yuma Union High School District is facing. Yuma Union HSD serves approximately 10,700 students in the southwest border corner of the state. Superintendent Bodine states that "the governor and the Legislature made recommendations but I'd wish they'd move to more permanent solutions." Continuing, Bodine relates that "we don't have a budget yet and we are frustrated. We haven't seen all the details so we don't know the impact to the district yet the governor's budget proposal is the kindest to kindergarten to 12th grade education."

This highlights the environment districts are attempting to work with over the short summer months and as they prepare for SY09-10. Unsure of their financial situation effects how HR managers and building principals are left "up in the air" for staffing teachers. Districts are hesitant and wary to hire teachers on contract and possibly be unable to pay them. Districts seem to be awaiting final operational budget figures before proceeding with staffing. This may be a while. Don't be surprised if there remains a lull in the posting of vacancies until July and then see the flood gates open. My best advice is to use this time to be as adequately prepared as possible for when the vacancy postings rise. There will mostly likely be a mad dash at that time to hire, indoc train, etc prior to the opening days of school in early August. Use this time to make sure you have your certifications in order. Have you satisfied the SEI requirements for all teachers? Do you have deficiencies in the right hand column of your certification (i.e. AZ Con)? Have you thought about expanding your certification via varied approved areas (subjects)? If you are an elementary certification, or secondary certification with one 7-12 approved area, have you considered adding a middle grade content area? Middle grade (7-8) math and science are high needs around the state, followed by language arts (via AEPA #10, 39, 38 respectively). Having multiple areas makes you more marketable and versatile in searching for positions. Have you considered adding an endorsement? Feel free to contact Ashford to review your certification and to make recommendations on some options you might want to consider.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Signs of Life

An article in Sunday's Arizona Republic may indicate there is initial relief to the current downtrend in teacher hiring. Some 7,000 AZ teachers were RIF'd within the last couple months. The article highlighted that Gilbert USD brought back 130 of 267 teachers, Peoria USD 188 of 300, Dysart USD 104 of 209, Scottsdale USD 129.5 of 221 and Deer Valley USD 71 of 105. However, the future picture over the next couple months seems as vague as it has been over the last several weeks. How deep the budget "cut" will be to education is uncertain. The proposed plans vary if their reaches into Education budget. For a comparison of the budget proposals click here. Additionally, according to US Dept of Education, Arizona is not among the 27 states that have received $22billion (of 53.6billion) in State Stabilization Funding from the Recovery Act (Stimulus). Under the Stabilization Fund, Arizona has been apportioned $1,016,955,000. Governor Brewer released a statement May 22nd, that the state has submitted application for State Stabilization Funds and that $832 million will be toward education (not all to K-12) which the Arizona Office of Economic Recovery outlines will come as $250million for FY09 K-12 Ed and $224 for FY10 K-12 Ed. Furthermore, Arizona has $194,108,000 under Recovery Act Title I Grants to LEA's (districts) as well as $178,476,000 under IDEA Part B Grants to States. How these funds will find their way to AZ districts seems to be lacking in transparency.

And, just on Monday, VP Joe Biden released the Roadmap to Recovery to President Obama outlining the funding of 135,000 education jobs (see page 9). Though somewhat vague on the Arizona numbers, the state is in the "second tier" along with MI, MO, NJ, PA, OH and WA for between 5,001 and 10,000 jobs (not all will be teachers). Only one state, TX, is in "first tier" with 10,ooo+ eduction jobs funded.

From my point of view, districts and schools are remaining reserved on posting and filling teaching positions as details for individual districts get worked out. In other words, they are waiting until "the money is in the bank" to proceed with staffing. Districts/schools are currently acting on what they know. There is still much they don't know when it comes to their operating budget for the coming school year. As this picture becomes clearer there will quickly be a rise in posting/advertising and hiring. There will be somewhat of a gap in the numbers of those RIF'd and those recalled. Many RIF'd teachers will not wait to hopefully be recalled and will seek teaching positions elsewhere. Thus this will end up creating vacancies. The best advise we can give is to periodically look at and also at individual district HR web pages for vacancy postings. You can find a listing of district web pages here and here. In addition, watch the "Hot Jobs" section of our web page at

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Post 9/11 GI Bill "Info Session"

An informational workshop on the Post 9/11 GI Bill is scheduled with Congressman Harry Mitchell (D-AZ 5th) and the Department of Veterans Affairs at Mesa Community College on June 6th from 1400-1600. To view flyer, click here.

Secretary of Education on TTT

Following some comments and questions of Congressman Tom Petri (R-WI), before the House Education and Labor Committee on 5/20, particularly on proposed HR1313, Education Secretary Arne Duncan responded, "I'm a huge fan of Troops to Teachers. I think it's a phenomenal pool of talent. As you said, many men from the minority community - great leaders by definition who are just phenomenal role models."

To view transcript of Secretary Duncan's opening testimony remarks to the Committee, click here.

To view the complete hearing, click here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wayland Baptist "Fast Tract" Certification

Wayland Baptist University is rolling out a "fast tract" secondary education post-baccalaureate teacher preparation program. Highlights of this certification (AZ) program include:

  • cost - Only $220 per graduate level credit.
  • convenience - Courses meet at Luke AFB when needed (most coursework online).
  • time - Complete the program in less than one year (begin Summer '09, complete Spring '10) with 5 three credit courses and a 14 week student teaching/practicum (8 credits). WBU terms are 11 weeks in length and recommend two course load per term.
  • Meets the requirement for the provisional Structured English Immersion Endorsement.
  • Direct transferability towards completing the M.Ed requirements.

For an overview of the program, click here.

For more information, or to apply for the program, contact Dr. Sue Bradley -, or Bruce Schamburek - - 602-279-1011. Feel free to also contact Ashford or John at the TTT office to discuss if this program will work for your pathway.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Top 25 Cities For Teachers

A recent survey conducted by The Apple (an online community for teachers) and illustrates the top 25 cities for teachers. A variety of factors were considered such as growth rates, salaries, unemployment rates, cost of living and commute times. You can review the survey/list here. Although Phoenix did not make "the list", here are your top 25 cities for teachers:
  1. Austin
  2. San Antonio
  3. Salt Lake City
  4. Oklahoma City
  5. Raleigh
  6. Seattle
  7. Rochester
  8. Portland
  9. Denver
  10. Honolulu
  11. Nashville
  12. Virginia Beach
  13. Kansas City (MO)
  14. Pittsburgh
  15. Charlotte
  16. Boston
  17. Buffalo
  18. Columbus
  19. Indianapolis
  20. St Louis
  21. Hartford
  22. Louisville
  23. Cincinnati
  24. Philadelphia
  25. San Diego