FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) – The man in charge of education in Kentucky says the shortage of teachers is concerning.
Kentucky Education Commissioner Jason Glass presented lawmakers on Tuesday with data on the teacher shortage that has worsened with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall hiring has partially rebounded, Glass said, but underlying issues remain.
Tuesday’s presentation to the Interim Joint Committee on Education — more of a listening session than a decision-making day — was a way for Glass to show Kentucky lawmakers the latest data from schools in the state. For example, the total number of teaching positions in 2019 was 9,076. After the state lost more than 1,500 people during the pandemic, the rebound – back to 8,724 in 2021 – has not caught up. its delay.
Glass said that was a clear indication of a problem filling vacancies.
“You have a multi-year effort that you’re going to have to invest in to have an impact,” Glass said. “I think what’s driving this right now is that we need to do something. Action needs to be taken so that you can tackle the problem upstream. If we continue to fail to act, we should expect may these vacancies increase…”
Earlier this year, Governor Andy Beshear signed House Bill 277, which would create an accelerated pipeline for future teachers.
The new law allows a Kentucky student to choose residence at a participating school district, shadow a teacher during the day, and attend class at a participating university at night. Assuming the student passes the required exams, the student can receive a bachelor’s degree and initial teacher certification in three academic years.
Students can also stay in their own district to complete the program. A teacher who is already in a traditional path can still choose to move to the accelerated program if they meet the requirements.
On Tuesday, Glass’s presentation focused on one fact: Many solutions involve more money, such as higher salaries for educators, state funding for scholarships, and increased recruiting efforts. .
Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Benton, hit back at Glass’s insistence that money was a problem, saying lawmakers had acted on pensions and saved funding for education.
“The challenge you have as lawmakers is about fiscal responsibilities, you have to keep doing that,” he told lawmakers. “The pressure is on the schools. The inflationary pressure is going to keep coming, as they do for everything else. So we need to keep increasing funding so that our schools can keep up with inflation and the pressure they are under to part of this.”
Louisville public school teachers will receive a 4% raise starting in the upcoming 2022-23 school year as part of a tentative agreement between their union and Kentucky’s largest school district.
In addition to general raises, Jefferson County public school teachers will receive a $1,000 continuity allowance for the upcoming school year and additional pay to work in the district’s Accelerated Improvement Schools and Choice Zone schools, part of JCPS’s new student assignment plan. That supplement will range between $8,000 and $14,000, Superintendent Marty Pollio said last week.
How to train teachers was also a topic of conversation on Tuesday.
Representative Killian Timoney, R-Lexington, spoke about how standardized tests are a barrier for many hoping to teach, and Glass agreed, adding that many holistic qualities cannot be measured on an exam.
“We struggle to measure these things,” Glass said. “These dispositional aspects are just as important, maybe more important than what you can do on a standardized test.”
After his presentation on Tuesday, Glass said he was generally pleased with the conversation and the ideas from lawmakers. He said the problems will not be solved overnight and that it will take long-term investment to address the teacher shortage.
“We need to start working proactively,” he said. “We need to get ahead and change some of the ways we talk about and support the teaching profession. And that needs to happen in the next session.”
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