Ky. teachers react to lack of action in Frankfort

Ky. educators talk about this Legislative session and measures that may or may not make a difference in their profession.
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 3:30 PM CDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - The GOP General Assembly did not take up Governor Andy Beshears’s proposal to provide teachers with a 5% raise.

Last year, lawmakers gave all state employees except teachers raises. It’s become a major point of contention in the debate over recruitment and retention in education.

“It’s like they started off the beginning of the session checking boxes, to sound like they were doing something and then just attacked us again and our students and our colleagues,” said educator and Kentucky 120 United AFT member Laura Hartke.

Hartke says this legislative session started out with a lot of promise and hope for teachers, but over the course of an almost 30-day session, she believes it’s fallen short.

“It’s nice to see them take an interest in solving the teacher shortage, but I’m not really sure I’ve seen anything that does,” Hartke said.

There are two days left for lawmakers to make moves.

House bill 319 is still awaiting final passage in the Senate. That measure focuses more on filling holes and gaps in staffing by removing licensure hurdles and has less to do with keeping current educators.

“We don’t need to be throwing walls up. We need to be making sure that we’re supporting our educators, listening to them, what they need so they can support our students every day,” said Kentucky Education Association president Eddie Campbell.

Campbell says the true priority is pay, as the Commonwealth ranks 44th in the nation for teacher salaries.

“Not just teachers where we have a shortage, we have transportation, custodial, aides, secretaries, all of those individuals,” said Campbell.

We asked Governor Beshear about efforts to keep and recruit educators in the Bluegrass and lawmakers’ efforts or lack thereof this session. He says there is still time to make it right.

“You go back to last session; legislators gave themselves an 8% raise but only funded what has turned out to be a 3% raise for our educators,” said Governor Beshear.

Some teachers worry that lessening the requirements and training to bring in more educators will be more harmful to students down the line.