FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX 56) — There is a new report detailing Kentucky’s teacher shortage and strategies for a solution.
State leaders joined educators Monday at the Kentucky Capitol as they discussed their findings and made a plea to lawmakers to take action.
The report outlines six strategies that the Kentucky Association of School Administrators hopes lawmakers will consider addressing the shortage.
Between Republicans and Democrats, there are several schools of thought, but as education leaders explained Monday, the problem has reached a critical point that needs lawmakers to act and act soon.
“Pay is a problem, but it’s also just an unmanageable load,” FCPS employee Laura Hartke told FOX 56.
The shortage has only gotten worse since the pandemic. Gov. Andy Beshear said there are more than 11,000 vacancies across the state.
“The heroic efforts that they’ve engaged in deserve better from us. This is a competition for talent,” Beshear said. The state has fallen to 44th in teacher pay, according to Beshear, and that has made it tougher to recruit those who are just graduating into the profession.
On Monday morning, KASA released a detailed report outlining how we got here and strategies to turn it around.
- Conduct a comprehensive study of Kentucky’s education
- Address teacher certification and qualification issues that impede teacher recruitment
- Explore financial incentives for statewide recruiting and retention efforts
- Seek a legislative mandate to bring together data, programs, and processes across disparate agencies and organizations to create a single “Be a Kentucky Teacher” portal for teacher preparation, recruitment, and application
- Mandate that every school district implement a teacher recruitment and induction system and provide noncompetitive grant funding to support the effort
- Develop a marketing plan to communicate to all Kentucky audiences the impact and importance of Kentucky educators and public education
“We can recruit a million teachers, but until we fix what’s happening inside the house, a million teachers are going to leave,” Hartke said.
Hartke, an area organizer for the American Federation of Teachers, said she is excited state leaders are exploring solutions to the issue, but it’s larger than just recruitment. She said the workload has just become too much on teachers.
House education chair Rep. James Tipton (R-Taylorsville) also heard the same concerns.
“Overwork, burnout, additional duties, discipline issues is one thing that I’ve heard recently, so those are issues we have to look at,” Tipton said.
Tipton is filing bills next week to address the shortage, and Gov. Beshear is also pushing for his administration’s plan.
“We’ll have $2 billion extra dollars right now that ought to be going into teacher pay, that ought to be going to universal pre-K,” Beshear said.
Republican leaders have argued against reopening the budget for the plan and said record education investments were already made, but Hartke said that didn’t make anything better.
“’We increased SEEK funding.’ Well not really. It didn’t keep up with inflation, and SEEK funding is meant to be spent on students, so what they effectively did there is pitted employees against kids,” Hartke said.
Rep. Tipton said when lawmakers come back next week, the Education Committee he chairs will be meeting to discuss further solutions to the state’s teacher shortage.