‘Pay, support and respect’: Debate continues over Kentucky’s teacher shortage

The debate over Kentucky’s teacher shortage continued in Frankfort Tuesday.
Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 12:05 PM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - The debate over Kentucky’s teacher shortage continued in Frankfort Tuesday.

Dr. Jason Glass, Kentucky’s education commissioner, talked of low application rates and retention when addressing lawmakers.

Glass told lawmakers the three main issues are pay, support and respect. He says while there has been debate over how many vacancies exist at any given time, the state has hundreds, if not several thousand vacancies.

“Well, one effect is that districts are having to be less choosy when it comes to selecting teacher candidates,” Dr. Glass said. “Some superintendents have told me they feel fortunate to get one applicant for some positions. Districts are also increasingly relying on emergency certifications, which allow people to teach outside of their certification to fill open positions.”

He says the Education Professional Standards Board provided 383 one-year emergency teaching certificates five years ago. This past year, they issued more than 1,100.

Dr. Glass says teachers need more support.

“So, the schools are destaffed over a number of years, class size has increased, and the workload on those remaining in the building becomes all the more demanding,” Dr. Glass said.

However, some lawmakers say the reasons for that are different based on who is talking to them.

“The number one issue that I hear from teachers that have talked to me is they do not feel supported by the administration. They express concerns. Those concerns are largely ignored,” said Rep. Russell Webber, R-Shepherdsville.

Discipline was another issue Webber pointed to.

“I have had teachers tell me about being attacked, harassed by 3rd graders,” Webber said.

No specific legislation was discussed at the legislative panel, but the chairman of the committee has hinted at possible bills to address these concerns.