Coalition weighs in on how to attract, retain teachers

Published 1:24 pm Tuesday, January 31, 2023

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Kentucky Today

A group known as the Coalition to Sustain the Education profession was joined by state officials, educators and students to announce the findings of their months-long study on teacher recruitment and retention.

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The recommendations include:

• Conduct a comprehensive study of the state of Kentucky education.

• Address teacher certification and qualification issues that impede teacher recruitment.

• Analyze financial incentives to aid in statewide recruiting and retention efforts.

• Create 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 non-competitive 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.

During a press conference in the Capitol Rotunda on Monday, Rhonda Caldwell, executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Administrators, said the issues are of vital importance to Kentucky’s 675,000 public school students.

“They are depending on all of us to provide highly qualified teachers to help them thrive every single day and find a career path which ultimately builds a stronger Kentucky.”

Caldwell said not only is there currently an 11,000 teacher shortage in Kentucky, but there is a dramatic decline in those studying to enter the field.

“We must act now to recruit and retain those who aspire to be educators in our schools,” she said.  “Failure to do so will have cascading effects, not only within education but far beyond.”    

Makiya McNear, a senior at Frankfort High School, told those on hand that she has wanted to be a school counselor since fifth grade, and has been doing an internship this year at her elementary and middle school.

“The best thing about my internship is the feeling that you are really making a positive change in a student’s life, something that many of my public school educators and counselors have done for me.”

She said educators are much more than that. “They are teachers, leaders, caregivers, and counselors, who have chosen to give something back to the community.”

Gov. Andy Beshear took the opportunity to tout his education plan. It includes a 5% pay raise for all school employees and fully funding transportation and other needs.

He pointed to action proposed by Indiana’s Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb. “He’s made it his number one mission in this session of his legislature to raise teacher pay. When you see how aggressively they are working to do it, it shows we are in direct competition with one of our neighbors.”