Our view: Teachers need support, not restraints


Wes Hammer/The News

Dionte Berry, Editor-in-Chief

With teachers overworked, underpaid and micromanaged, it comes as no surprise many states report struggling with teacher shortages, and Kentucky is one of them.

In Kentucky, there are nearly 10,000 teacher vacancies, said Gov. Andy Beshear. Instead of confronting those vacancies, Kentucky lawmakers held a hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 7 regarding the teacher shortage that grew into an argument about “woke” culture, reported by WLKY. 

Beyond the arguing, the Kentucky Commissioner of Education Jason Glass blamed three challenges for the statewide teacher shortage at Tuesday’s hearing: low pay, lack of support and lack of respect for the teacher shortage. 

As of now, none of those three variables have been addressed. The only aspect to be addressed so far is making it more accessible to receive teaching certification. 

Kentucky school districts are relying more on emergency certifications, which were passed into lawJuly 2022. However, we at The News find although the expedited teacher certification route can be helpful toward the crisis, but it will be frivolous if teaching conditions do not change.

Beshear has called on the legislature to pass the Education First Plan, which would increase teacher wages by 5%, provide universal pre-K funding, return teacher pensions, restore textbook funding and professional development, include loan forgiveness and support social and mental health. 

It’s not as if the solution for teacher retention hasn’t already been pointed out, written down and detailed by plans; it just depends on whether Kentucky lawmakers care enough to implement plans that would support teachers. 

A majority of the legislation proposed within the last two years were not made to boost the ability to educate students but instead treated classes like political playgrounds. 

Bills such as Senate Bill 138 would prohibit teachers from talking about current and controversial topics, which would likely pertain to racism in the U.S. Overall, it would hinder important discussions surrounding the racism that still exists. 

SB 138 treats racism and inequality as if it is something that went down the drain once the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. 

With politics invading the classroom, teachers can’t teach freely, and it’s unfair for people who have studied education to have their teaching certifications  micromanaged by lawmakers who don’t hold the same credentials as them. 

In regards to solutions for the teacher shortage, bills like SB 138 should be tossed in the trash. The teacher shortage should show lawmakers the risks of what happens when classrooms are overcontrolled. 

Beshear’s Education First Plan is a great start for accommodating not only teachers but also the needs of students. With inflation, teachers need a pay reflective of the increase in the cost of living. Public school teachers often have to pay for supplies out of their own pockets. If they are expected to provide exemplary education then they shouldn’t have to fork out their own paychecks. 

We at The News expect lawmakers to use their time wisely and spend it on ways to grow the teaching field rather than police education, and treat classrooms as political tools.