A Kentucky bill aimed at solving their teacher shortage is moving forward through the state House of Representatives.

House Bill 319 is a multi-feature bill aimed at getting more teachers into classrooms. Every county in Kentucky but one reports a shortage of teachers, across all fields of study from early childhood education to AP courses. According to Rep. James Tipton, the House education chair, there are as many as 2000 teacher vacancies on any given day in the state, with many job openings going unfilled year after year.

The bill includes these provisions, among others:

  • Kentucky would join an interstate compact on teaching licensure, to allow teachers from other states to move into Kentucky teaching jobs more easily.
  • Gathering data about departing teachers from exit interviews for the Kentucky Department of Education. There is so far no comprehensive survey in Kentucky of why teachers are leaving the field.
  • Coordinating a marketing campaign to promote teaching as a profession.
  • Creating a single statewide portal for teacher job postings, to contribute to ease of access.
  • Removing caps on the amount of money one can receive from the state’s teacher scholarship program.
  • Streaming various alternate certification processes to make it easier for people to switch careers into teaching.

Many people are criticizing the bill as too shallow, but it’s a step forward.

“But I do believe that House Bill 319 is a good first step to take some positive actions that will remove some of the burden, remove some of the regulation, remove some of the red tape,” said Tipton, the bill’s sponsor. “And make it easier and more conducive for individuals to consider going into the teaching profession and to keep them in the teaching profession.”

Last year, Kentucky passed a budget to fully fund full-day kindergarten and improve teacher pensions and infrastructure. It left it to school districts to decide if they’d use the money for school salaries. The new bill will bolster those pay raises, as well as encourage professionals in other fields to bring their expertise to teaching.

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