Kentucky Republican Party disputes Beshear’s teacher shortage numbers

Governor Beshear said the state was down nearly 11,000 teachers, a number pulled from the government side, Kentucky Educator Placement Service.
Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 3:51 PM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Teacher shortages are often a topic of conversation in Frankfort.

With many open and vacant teaching positions in the state, both sides of the aisle are looking ahead to come up with better solutions.

Governor Beshear said the state was down nearly 11,000 teachers, a number pulled from the government side, Kentucky Educator Placement Service.

“Really, the number is closer to 1,700, and so I think we need to make sure we’re talking with facts and realities when it comes to actually addressing problems,” said Sean Southard with the Republican Party of Kentucky. “We know that over the course of the last few years with the pandemic and the learning loss that occurred that there’s a problem, so I think republicans are committed to working to address those problems.”

Southard says there are all different job openings; when you go to the KEPS site, it shows more than just teacher openings.

However, Governor Beshear told us that even though numbers continuously change, they were provided that number by the Department of Education.

“Teacher shortages are measured at the beginning of a school year as you go into it,” said Governor Beshear. “That number of 11,000 was provided by the Department of Education. Now, during a year, you’re able to fill some, but some you have subs in, some you’re filling with people that aren’t certified in the subject they are teaching. Our teacher shortage is significant.”

KEA officials also say there are around 11,000 openings for all school staff, not just teachers.

“Teachers feel that every single day because teachers that are in our schools, support staff, everyone in our schools are having to do double duty just to make up for those positions that aren’t being filled,” said Fayette County Education Association President Jessica Hiler. “Now, we’re really at a crisis point where we need to make some changes.”

Regardless, officials say staffing shortages are still a big issue.

“This is a serious problem now, but if we don’t start taking actions now, five-to-10 years from now, the problems are going to be that much worse. Even more severe,” said Chair of the State House Education Committee Jason Tipton.

Rep. Tipton says working conditions for teachers need to improve for these issues to improve. T

Tipton and Hiler both say they have seen situations where administrators are helping to fill in some classrooms.

“The main thing is what’s in the best interest for our children in the state,” said Rep. Tipton. “Obviously, having a quality teacher in the classroom is the most important thing we can provide that child in their education, so I think we can come together and come up with positive solutions.”

Tipton says he’s asked the Kentucky Education Department to come to their meeting next Tuesday at the capitol to clarify the exact number of vacancies they are seeing in their schools.

There will be a House Standing Committee on Education meeting on February 7, where a number of education officials and speakers will be talking about teacher shortages.