Governor targets prof, teacher retention

By Andrea Kelly
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, May 11, 2005

PHOENIX - Gov. Janet Napolitano announced April 4 plans to create a committee on teacher quality and support, which she hopes will help alleviate teacher retention problems in Arizona schools and universities.

The committee, which Napolitano said would be chaired by Northern Arizona University President John Haeger, will research and advise ways to "attract, train and retain" teachers in the state.

Retention has been a problem and a focus at the UA for the past few years. A phenomenon referred to as "brain drain" has drawn Arizona professors to other universities with higher salaries.

Last year, the UA received $4.3 million from its $15 million request from the Legislature to combat the problem, most of which was used by college deans, said Greg Fahey, UA lobbyist.

Napolitano said the universities' roles in the governor's committee are to better train teachers as they enter the work force.

"We know that high-quality teachers have more impact on student achievement than just about anything else," Napolitano said.

Haeger said one of his goals was to train teachers in much-needed areas, including mathematics and science. He said the state universities could do more to combat this problem and continuing education is critical.

While universities will train many students before they become teachers, Napolitano said community colleges have a role to play in the continuing education of teachers.

They will hopefully be more active in updating teachers' educations throughout their careers.

"Providing teachers with the tools and support to be the best they can be will go a long way toward making Arizona a place where schools are the greatest in the nation," Napolitano said.

Napolitano said she created this committee in honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week and hopes it will strengthen Arizona's schools.