Exodus of teachers from Arizona classrooms

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Jeanine Frandsen is a second generation teacher.  17 years in, she's loving it, but leaving it. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Jeanine Frandsen is a second generation teacher. 17 years in, she's loving it, but leaving it. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Third grade teacher Molly Bligh can't count on state leaders to fix this.  A single mom with two boys, grading papers during dinner is her normal. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Third grade teacher Molly Bligh can't count on state leaders to fix this. A single mom with two boys, grading papers during dinner is her normal. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Matt and Dana Laskin teach with Bligh and Frandsen at Sonoran Foothills Elementary in the Deer Valley District. They both have masters and agree they're not compensated as professionals. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Matt and Dana Laskin teach with Bligh and Frandsen at Sonoran Foothills Elementary in the Deer Valley District. They both have masters and agree they're not compensated as professionals. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

While teachers across Arizona just voted to walk out of the classroom for better pay and education funding, many already decided a while ago, they’ve had enough.

We’ve all heard the stories of teachers working two, three, four jobs, moonlighting to make ends meet.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona Schools in Crisis]

We found a lot of teachers who say they can’t wait any more for things to get better in Arizona.

Good teachers, leaving our state for better pay, leaving the country, leaving the profession.

Jeanine Frandsen is a second generation teacher.

17 years in, she's loving it, but leaving it.

"I said I would never be one of those teachers who get bitter, I love my students too much for that," Frandsen said.

“When I entered teaching, we had a pay scale that actually compensated us for education and years of experience,” she said.

[RELATED: Parents concerned about what to do if there's a teacher walkout]

Now, there are critical teacher shortages, bigger class sizes and far more responsibilities.

She started this year with 36 fourth grade students, 18 in the gifted program.

Many teachers are also being forced to double as counselors, and possibly now in the wake of recent school shootings, armed security guards as well.

“Every year, there’s more and more placed on teachers,” Frandsen said.

Christine Thompson with Expect More Arizona, says a few years ago, the number of positions filled by emergency subs was close to  zero, now it’s closer to 1,000.

“The teacher improvement and retention crisis is really coming to a boil in Arizona,” Thompson said.

“ I love what I do, it breaks my heart!” Frandsen said she's sad to admit, but she steered her son away from following in her footsteps.

[READ MORE: Gov. Doug Ducey proposes teacher pay increase of 9% this year, 20% by 2020]

“It’s hard to think as a mom, I wasn’t wanting to encourage my son to go into my family's profession,” Frandsen said.

William Kimsey teaches high school and college English.

"I just warn them that if you love teach like I do, it’s a great profession, get into it, but just be forewarned, you’re going to have to have second and third jobs,” Kimsey said.

He and his wife Allison both teach at the same place they went to high school, Shadow Mountain in the Paradise Valley District.

"It always feel inadequate because I can’t do what I need to do with the time I’m given and the number of students I have,” Allison Kimsey said.  

"It’s become almost impossible to do our jobs well,” said her husband.

They made up their mind long before the #RedforED rallies, to follow the money and found a place that will give them a $20,000 raise each, with lots of perks.

[READ MORE: Ducey's teacher pay plan means less funding for other programs]

"We’re going to Indonesia!" said William Kimsey.

They signed a two-year contract with an international school that includes: free rent, utilities, health insurance and a paid flight home every year.

And, perhaps the biggest benefit, half the number of classes and students.

"It was like, ‘Do you want teaching heaven? Because here it is,'” Allison Kimsey laughed, “That’s what it sounded like.  And we're like, "Is this real life?'

Third grade teacher Molly Bligh can't count on state leaders to fix this.

A single mom with two boys, grading papers during dinner is her normal.

[RELATED: Arizona teachers call strike vote, despite raise plan]

"I'm still having to ask my parents for money,” Bligh said.

She can't just pick up and move because her parents also help with childcare.

She says while a masters degree would give her about a $50 pay bump, she can't afford to be saddled with more student loans.

She's making barely making more than what she started at 14 years ago.

“I was taking home around $900 and now I take home $1,179,” Bligh said.

And she knows that exact number well.

“I know, because I pray for that every two weeks, I need that in there!" she said.

[RELATED: Would the public support a teacher strike in Arizona?]

Matt and Dana Laskin teach with Bligh and Frandsen at Sonoran Foothills Elementary in the Deer Valley District.

"Every year when our contract comes out, we look at, "Is this really worth signing again?"

They both have masters and agree they're not compensated as professionals.

“We come in really early, we stay late, we take things home. Our date nights are us grading on the couch together," Dana Laskin said.

She's from Oklahoma, so they understand why teachers there didn't immediately put down the picket signs when they got a $6,000 raise.

“It’s just a temporary Band-aid, that money’s from a tobacco tax that has to go somewhere else next year,” she said.

“You could pay the teachers here in Arizona more, but that’s not going to necessarily make the teaching conditions better,” Matt Laskin said.

So, what’s the biggest thing causing the exodus from our Arizona classrooms?

"Being far behind is a real challenge," Thompson said.

She said  it's not just teacher pay, or class size and funding, or vacancies.

It's all of the above.

"Even if we solve all the issues tomorrow, we’re still gonna feel the effects of this for some years," Thompson said.

This snapshot of border state salaries averaging $3,700- $24,000 more than the Arizona median pay for elementary school teachers, really puts things in perspective.

Governor Doug Ducey's plan to give teachers a 9 percent raise now, with 20 percent by 2020, and an additional $371,000,000 to restore education cuts, might not be enough to stop teachers from leaving.

Frandsen says there’s no way to guarantee future promises and it does nothing to help the aides and support staff teachers need at their schools.

"This hasn't changed anything,” Frandsen said  the damage is done.

At least four teachers are still leaving her school at the end of this year.

Second year 3rd grade teacher Addie Olson is moving to Seattle.

“Believe it or not, I make more money babysitting then I do, just in a day of work here,” she said.

“I was told I’ll probably be starting at $51,000 which is about $15,000 more than what I’m making right now,” Olson said.

“This is a crisis. We need to fix our schools!” Frandsen said.

She said she hopes things turn around, and if they do, she’d want to come back.

“I'd love to come back and have the funding there and see my students get what they need, because that's the heart breaking part,” Frandsen said.

Ultimately, she hopes we find a way to keep the passion in the classroom, for future generations.

The grass isn’t always greener.

As we pick apart the problems in our classrooms, other teachers are warning, the grass isn’t always greener.

We found some out of state teachers who are actually moving here to teach in Arizona.

They say, we don’t have it quite as bad as we think.

Arizona ranks 49th in the country for K -12 teacher pay.

[MORE: K-12 funding in AZ far below 2008 levels]

According to the Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association or ASPAA, 866 teachers either abandoned or resigned in the first four months of this school year.

And 62.5 percent of our classrooms are shortchanged with vacancies or are being taught by non-certified, non-standard or long-term substitute teachers.

Bigger classes, teachers, on the brink of a walk-out.

So who would want to teach here?

You might be surprised.

"I'm so ready to move to Arizona. I can't wait to get into that classroom!" she said.

Cassie Kern just got her bachelor's degree in early childhood education and special ed from Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania last May.

When she couldn't find any teaching jobs, she signed- on.as a full-time aide at a charter school making $22,000 a year.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona Schools in Crisis]

And like so many other teachers across the country, she juggles a second job, waitressing at Applebee’s four nights a week.

Cassie’s been following the Arizona Educators United RedforED Facebook forum and isn't the only out of state teacher coming here to Arizona for a better opportunity.

“I will be making $40,000 - $43,000 a year as a full-time second grade teacher at Sunset Elementary School. It will absolutely double my salary, the cost of living will be more, but I'll definitely be able to afford it!” she said.

Other out of state teachers say the cost of living differential, just isn't worth it.

One teacher in Oklahoma posted, "Don't come here, we don't have it figured out just yet."

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