As a new school year has recently started for students in the Commonwealth, many are worried about the lack of teachers. So much so, that it was addressed during this year's Kentucky Board of Education meeting in Frankfort in August.
During the meeting, Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis announced a new campaign, Go Teach KY, and its website to help try and rectify the shortage. The board also announced that applications for the Kentucky Academy for Equity in Teaching (KAET) renewable loan forgiveness program also are being accepted as part of the campaign.
"As schools begin in a new year, districts are still clamoring to fill positions. If one child starts school without a qualified teacher in the classroom it's one child too many. Unfortunately, for another school year, this will be the case for many Kentucky students," said Lewis announcing the new campaign.
Lewis and the board are hoping this crisis will be addressed and alleviated through Go Teach KY, which will focus on three avenues of teacher recruitment.
First, there is the teaching and learning career pathway available to high school students, in conjunction with Educators Rising, a student organization for middle school and high school students interested in education-related careers. Then there is the program's call for active recruitment of college students and prospective college students into teacher education programs; and finally, the program illustrates the eight options for alternative routes to teacher certification created by the Kentucky General Assembly for people who have demonstrated exceptional work and/or educational experiences.
The Go Teach KY website goes more in depth on the multiple pathways that one could take to become a teacher, including tips for those who have exceptional work experience, are/were college faculty members, armed force veterans, etc. Those interested in checking out the website can do so by visiting www.goteachky.com.
Estimating the actual number of teaching vacancies in Kentucky can be difficult. Many use the number of job postings on the state's educator employment website -- as Kentucky law requires public school districts to notify the state education department of vacancies. Over 5,000 teaching vacancies have been posted to the Kentucky Educator Placement Services Website since the beginning of this year. However, just as schools are required to notify the state education department of vacancies, they are required to inform the department of filled vacancies, as well. This can lead to accuracy issues as job postings are not always immediately taken down after the position is filled.
Officials say the shortage is caused by teachers leaving the field and fewer college students pursuing an education degree.
According to a report filed by the Council of Postsecondary Education, while the number of bachelor's degrees obtained by Kentuckians over the last five years was up by 23.9%, education degrees had the largest five-year decline at 13.2%.
"You can positively impact the lives of children and families now and for generations to come," said Lewis to those considering a career in teaching. "You can inspire Kentucky's next generation of scientists, health care professionals, educators, attorneys, and more. What's missing in Kentucky's schools? You. Take the next step toward teaching. Kentucky students need you."
The Times-Tribune will look at local effects of the teacher shortage in an upcoming article.