Ky. lawmakers, education leaders meet in Frankfort to address teacher shortage

The Interim Joint Committee on Education met in Frankfort Tuesday to discuss the state’s teacher shortage.
Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 5:34 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - The Interim Joint Committee on Education met in Frankfort Tuesday to discuss the state’s teacher shortage.

Kentucky Education Commissioner Dr. Jason Glass said the shortage will get worse if lawmakers don’t act.

“We know that we both have problems in bringing teachers in and keeping them in the profession,” Dr. Glass said.

Tuesday afternoon he told the Interim Joint Education Committee that more than 30,000 Kentucky teachers are at risk of leaving the classroom, with the highest numbers among new teachers and those nearing retirement. He said several factors, including COVID-19, have contributed to the shortage.

“I think that stress is something that we’re seeing have an impact on teaching, but also some of what we talked about, like the erosion of planning time, the addition of responsibilities,” Dr. Glass said.

Dr. Glass told lawmakers that even though alternative teaching programs like Teach For America help address the shortage, the biggest focus should be on traditional teaching programs here in Kentucky.

He said the state could gain more teachers by implementing teaching career pathway programs in high schools and assisting districts with recruitment. He also suggested removing barriers for obtaining teaching certifications. But most of all, he proposed raising teacher wages, which the Kentucky Education Association (KEA) supports.

“We’re 36 in the nation when we talk about educator pay for the average educator. Our first-year educators start at $36,000. [It’s] just really having that conversation about what does professional pay look like, how do we support that?” KEA President Eddie Campbell said.

Campbell said many teachers feel overworked and need help.

“Professional support, professional development, making sure that they have adequate training. That stuff needs to be occurring every single year,” Campbell said.

Campbell said lawmakers should also address shortages among school bus drivers, food service workers, and custodial staff.

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