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Nationwide teacher shortages leave school districts relying on alternative solutions

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Districts nationwide are shortening school weeks and packing more students into classrooms because there aren’t enough teachers. Arizona is just one state where almost a quarter of their teaching jobs are consistently vacant.

School districts are fighting to fill some of those jobs in Arizona and half of the time they are filled by people who aren’t properly certified.  

Representatives for school districts in the Phoenix-area say they’ve been feeling this shortage for almost a decade, and there’s no end in sight. 

School districts in Arizona have felt the teacher shortage for almost a decade. (Littleton School District)

“Do I want to pay off my student loans? Yes. Would I like to take a vacation? Yes. Do I not want to work every summer without fail or every winter break to pay my bills? Am I living paycheck to paycheck? Yeah,” said Littleton School District new teacher mentor Cassandra Lockard. 

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Cassandra Lockard taught for 16 years, but she says on a teacher’s low salary, she’ll probably never be able to pay off her debt. 

students working at a desk

Arizona needed 7,500 teachers at the start of last school year. (Littleton School District)

GROWING NUMBER OF TEACHERS LEAVING THE PROFESSION ACROSS THE US DUE TO BURNOUT, LOW PAY

Lockard is certified to teach history, but last year, she had to step up and teach science to 55 students. 

“It was intense. Did they pass the state science test? No, no they didn’t, because how am I going to get 55 kids on my own to pass the state’s science test? I am not currently certified, you know, in being a science teacher,” said Lockard. 

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Some states where more than half their school districts have a tough time filling school vacancies include Nevada, Arizona, Illinois, Florida and Michigan.  

At the start of the last school year, Arizona needed about 7,500 teachers still. The state relies on uncertified teachers to fill the void.

A teacher holding up a card

About 20-25% of teacher positions remain vacant annually in Arizona. (Mesa Public Schools)

“When you have a teacher shortage, you have teachers that are not as qualified. And then you see, in many cases, a correlating decline in data, which is a concern for everybody. Oh, the kids aren’t doing so well. Well, if you’re not going to pay us, and you can’t find anybody to put in the classroom, data is going to drop. That’s a given,” said Lockard. 

As one solution to lessening the shortage, some school districts have created an alternative route to become teachers.

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“Out of those 7,500, about 4,000 of them were filled by alternative means. Alternative means they were on an alternative pathway, a change of career. So they may be in the business setting, or they got a college degree in another field,” said Mesa Public Schools Assistant Superintendent of HR Justin Wing. 

Students raising hands in front of teacher

Mesa Public Schools have an alternative pathway for individuals to become teachers. (Mesa Public Schools)

Wing says this pathway removes financial and time barriers for individuals who want to become teachers.

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“We’re in our second year of hosting our own certification program. So if you have a degree in another field, you can be a teacher tomorrow. And we’re going to heavily invest in you and support you to be the best teacher possible. And after you complete our two-year program, now you have all the teacher credentials,” said Wing. “The Arizona Department of Education will be giving them a full teacher certificate, a 12-year teacher certificate.”

School districts around the country are also hiring internationally to help with the teacher shortage.

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Southwest

Wife of rodeo star Spencer Wright shares tragic update on three-year-old son Levi after river accident

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Kallie Wright, wife of rodeo star Spencer Wright, shared a heartbreaking update on their three-year-old son, Levi, who is in critical condition after an accident in the Utah River.

Levi nearly drowned and was feared brain-dead after he fell off a toy tractor into the river on Tuesday. Though he woke up briefly on Friday, the boy’s mother said on Friday the family is “shattered” after seeing the MRI result. 

“The MRI wasn’t good, we’re shattered but it is just images that suggest a certain quality of life,” wrote Kallie Wright, who has been posting updates about her son on Facebook. “Our real teller of all will be what Levi does over the course of a few days.”

Levi was admitted to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City after his accident on Tuesday. Although the MRI results appeared discouraging, there were signs of progress earlier that gave the family hope. 

RODEO STAR SPENCER WRIGHT’S SON AWAKE AFTER PREVIOUSLY BEING CONSIDERED BRAIN-DEAD FOLLOWING RIVER ACCIDENT

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Spencer Wright, 33, is ranked No. 40 in the world in saddle bronc riding. His three-year-old son Levi remains in critical condition after falling into the Utah River on his tractor. (STACIE SCOTT/THE DESERET NEWS VIA AP)

Family friend Mindy Clark, who has also posted updates about the boy on social media, shared Friday that Levi’s EEG monitor showed brain activity when he heard his sister’s voice telling him “how she was hoping he’d get better and couldn’t wait for him to come home.” The monitor also reacted when the family played him dinosaur sounds from one of his favorite books and when his mother kissed him, Clark said.

Wright asked for prayers as the family continues to seek the best medical opinions and care for Levi.

“Please continue to pray! I’m not giving up on my baby just yet,” she wrote. “I’m working on getting any and all neurologists or other educated professionals with expertise in this area who are willing to view his MRI. Then just seeing what my strong boys does in the next few days. You might not hear from me for a few days, we are going to focus on our Beans!”

Levi was playing outside his family’s Beaver County home on Tuesday when his mother briefly went inside. By the time she returned, the toddler was nowhere to be found.

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RODEO STAR SPENCER WRIGHT’S THREE-YEAR-OLD SON HOSPITALIZED AFTER FALLING INTO UTAH RIVER ON TOY TRACTOR

Spencer Wright rodeo performance

Spencer Wright competes on the Saddle Bronc Riding BP Super Series I, Round 2 during the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Wednesday, March 5, 2014, in Houston. (Marie D. De Jesus/Houston Chronicle via Getty Images)

“I need everyone in Beaver to come to my house and help find my son in the water,” she posted on Facebook during the search.

Although they didn’t disclose the child’s name, the Beaver County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a statement that it had received a call about a boy who had fallen into the river off a toy tractor around 6 p.m. that day. He was found unconscious in the water about a mile downstream, Clark told KUTV. 

“[Kallie] saw his little tractor overturned and immediately dialed 911 and jumped into the water to find him,” Clark told KUTV. “We don’t know how long he had been in the water, but he had been carried quite a ways.”

Initially, the family’s outlook was grim, but testing performed Wednesday began to lift their hopes. 

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PENNSYLVANIA DAD DEMANDS ANSWERS AFTER SON, 5, HAS TEETH KNOCKED OUT IN BLOODY ASSAULT AT SCHOOL, LAWYER SAYS

Wright family pose for photo

Stetson Wright, Jesse Wright, Ryder Wright, Rusty Wright, Spencer Wright and Cody Wright pose onstage during the “Outside the Barrel” with Flint Rasmussen show during National Finals Rodeo’s Cowboy Christmas at the Las Vegas Convention Center on December 7, 2019, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mindy Small/FilmMagic)

“Our doctor was a little taken aback by her exam as they came in the room to end care. She felt strongly that we needed to give him more time,” the family said Wednesday. “Now this doesn’t mean that in 12 hours we won’t be right back in the same position with him in my arms preparing for goodbye but it does mean we have time for a miracle…. Don’t give up on my boy just yet.” 

Clark wrote that the family is “unbelievably humbled” by the love and prayers they’ve received since the child was injured.

The toddler’s father, 33-year-old Spencer Wright, is ranked No. 40 in the world in saddle bronc riding. He and his three brothers made history in 2014 when all four qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Wright ultimately won the championship.

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The family was the subject of the book “The Last Cowboys” and has been featured on an episode of “60 Minutes.” 

Earlier this year, Wright won the Rio Grande Livestock Show and Rodeo in Mercedes, Texas.

Fox News’ Christina Coulter contributed to this report.

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Los Angeles, Ca

Cars intentionally torched by arsonist in Southern California neighborhood

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Cars intentionally torched by arsonist in Southern California neighborhood

An arson investigation is underway after several cars were torched in Los Angeles’ Chinatown neighborhood overnight, police confirmed to KTLA.  

Neighborhood residents who live between North Bunker Hill Avenue and Bartlett Street awoke at around 4:30 a.m. Sunday to flames engulfing several of their cars parked at the curb.  

“I get outside and it’s like the world is on fire,” Daniel Finnerty told KTLA’s Rachel Menitoff. “The apocalypse is happening in my front yard.”  

Residents who spoke with KTLA said it’s not uncommon to come across scenes like this, random and destructive fires, but this time someone was targeting people’s cars.  

“You got a car down there in flames and then up a block, you just hear boom, and I assume it was a tire exploding,” Finnerty added. “It’s crazy stuff.”  

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Unfortunately, Cecelia Martinez’s family car went up in the blaze.  

“My biggest fear was that the cars were going to explode because I had just put gas in my car,” she explained. “I don’t have a car right now. Yeah, insurance will pay, but what happens to all of the memories that we had in that car. It was our family car.”  

  • Multiple cars torched in L.A.'s Chinatown neighborhood
  • Multiple cars torched in L.A.'s Chinatown neighborhood
  • Multiple cars torched in L.A.'s Chinatown neighborhood

Thomas Conrad told KTLA that he believes the fires could be the work of someone living in a nearby homeless encampment.  

“Here we go again,” he said when asked what he thought of the situation. “It’s a thrill to commit crimes knowing you probably won’t get caught and if you do, you get the proverbial slap on the wrist.”  

Investigators with the Los Angeles Police Department spent time at the scene collecting evidence, saying arson was to blame for the charred destruction left behind.  

“It’s not what they did,” Johana Martinez said. “It’s more about the car they took from us. It’s really going to hurt because they don’t know the sacrifices my parents made to actually get us that car that we were all comfortable in.”  

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Anyone with information about the fire is urged to contact LAPD. Those wishing to remain anonymous can call the L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-222-8477 or leave tips online at www.lacrimestoppers.org 

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Southwest

10 locations around the world that offer breathtaking sunsets

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There are so many places around the globe where you can soak in the magnificent views of a colorful sunset. 

Santorini, Greece, and Key West, Florida, are just a couple places known for their unforgettable sunset displays.

If you find yourself in one of these places, or one of the others listed below, don’t skip out on finding a good spot to watch the sunset during your travels.

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Below are 10 places in the United States and around the world where sunsets are some of the best. 

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Check out this list. 

The spots in this roundup are some of the many locations around the world that offer spectacular sunset views. (Giuseppe Cacace/AFP via Getty Images | Wang Dongzhen/Xinhua via Getty Images)

  1. Key West, Florida
  2. Agra, India
  3. Bali, Indonesia
  4. Cairo, Egypt
  5. Siem Reap, Cambodia
  6. Santorini, Greece
  7. Maui, Hawaii
  8. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
  9. Uluru, Australia
  10. Dubai, UAE

1. Key West, Florida

Key West, Florida, is known for its sunsets. There’s even a nightly celebration to prove it. 

The nightly sunset celebration in Key West takes place in Mallory Square. It’s an event that dates back to the 1960s, according to the Mallory Square website. 

The celebration kicks off about two hours before sunset. You can often catch entertainment from musicians, magicians and more in Mallory Square leading up to the sunset. 

A crowd watching the sunset from Mallory Square in Key West, Florida

Mallory Square in Key West, Florida, holds a nightly sunset celebration. (Getty Images)

There are plenty of spots to have a bite and do some shopping in Mallory Square while you wait for the sun to set. 

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2. Agra, India

The Taj Mahal is a popular tourist attraction in India. 

There are many places to settle in and watch the sun set over the Taj Mahal. 

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You could opt for a romantic boat ride on the Yamuna River or watch from Mehtab Bagh, a beautiful park in Agra. 

You could also visit one of the many rooftop restaurants located close to the Taj Mahal for views you won’t soon forget. 

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3. Bali, Indonesia

Bali is a favorable spot for honeymooners with many luxury resorts lining sandy beaches. 

When it comes to watching the sunset in Bali, you’re in luck because there are so many beautiful locations to view from. 

Echo Beach is one popular spot among travelers to see the sunset. Here, you can lie on the beach as you watch the waves roll in as the sun goes down. La Plancha and Jimbaran Bay are also among the hot spots to watch the sunset in Bali. 

The sunset in Bali

There are various locations throughout Bali that provide visitors with an unforgettable sunset. (Sergi Reboredo/VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Tanah Lot Temple and Uluwatu Temple are other spots where many gather to catch the sunset in Bali.

There are plenty of resorts, bars and restaurants in Bali that also offer spectacular sunset views.

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4. Cairo, Egypt

If you’re watching the sunset in Egypt’s capital, Cairo, you must visit Al-Azhar Park.

The park is 72 acres, according to its website, and features plenty of scenic spots to watch the sunset. 

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There are three different restaurants located in the park where you can grab something to eat while you’re there. 

If you want a higher view, Cairo Tower is where you need to go. From here, you’ll be able to see the buildings making up the city, as well as the Nile and the ancient pyramids of Giza.

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5. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Cambodia is full of beautiful beaches and ancient temples that are archaeological wonders. 

Siem Reap offers gorgeous sunset views. Many try to catch the sunset at the Angkor Wat temple complex, which is said to be the largest religious monument in the world, according to History.com, spanning more than 400 acres.

Sunset from Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia

Seeing the sunset at Angkor Wat is something you won’t want to miss on your trip. (Rob Ball/Getty Images)

Phnom Krom is another that people visit to catch the sunset in Cambodia.

6. Santorini, Greece

Santorini’s architecture of picturesque white-colored buildings with blue domes contributes to its beauty. 

Watching the sun go down in Santorini is a moment for snapping a few pictures for sure.

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Consider the Castle of Oia or Akrotiri Lighthouse to watch the sunset in Santorini. Keep in mind that these are very popular tourist attractions, so they’re likely to be crowded during your visit. 

The sunset in Santorini, Greece

Throughout your trip to Santorini, Greece, there are multiple places you can go to see the sunset. (Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket via Getty Images)

7. Maui, Hawaii

On a tropical trip to Maui, there are so many places to enjoy the sunset during your vacation. 

Kapalua Bay is one spot in Maui where you are sure to see beautiful colors draped across the sky. 

Other beaches in Maui where you can catch the sunset with your toes in the sand are Kāʻanapali, Mākena (Big Beach) and Keawakapu.

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8. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Seeing the sunset at Grand Canyon National Park is a unique experience. No matter where you are, you can catch a good glimpse of the sunset, although there are certain locations considered more favorable than others. 

Mather Point is one spot where tourists flock to see the sunset from a spectacular viewing point, and there is also Yavapai Point and Hopi Point. 

Sunset at Grand Canyon National Park

Many of the popular sunset spots in Grand Canyon National Park can be reached via a short shuttle ride. (George Rose/Getty Images)

Mather Point is very easy to get to as it’s the first stop on the westbound Kaibab Rim (Orange) bus route from the visitor center, according to the National Park Service website. 

Just a short walk away is Yavapai Point. 

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If your intended destination is Hopi Point, you can take the shuttle, or you can walk the Rim Trail to get there, according to the National Park Service website, which is about a 2.5-mile hike.

9. Uluru, Australia

Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is a monolith, a large single stone, located in the Northern Territory. It is one of Australia’s most recognizable landmarks.

Many head to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park to catch the sunrise or sunset.

Uluru sunset

Experience the sunset at Uluru in Australia during your trip. (Palani Mohan/Getty Images)

The national park is about a five-hour drive from Alice Springs.

Keep in mind that the Uluru climb permanently closed in Oct. 2019, though there are still plenty of other spots for viewing the sunset. 

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10. Dubai, UAE

In Dubai, you have a lot of very different options for how you can experience the sunset.

If you want breathtaking views of the city, the best you’re going to get is at the top of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest structure in the world. 

 

You could also choose a beach view by visiting Kite Beach or Sunset Beach. Additionally, you can watch the sunset while taking a boat cruise.

If you want to experience a sunset in the desert, that is also an option in Dubai on a scenic evening desert safari.

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