Beshear discusses new Education First Plan amid teacher shortage, education issues

Beshear addressed the new plan in his Team Kentucky Update Thursday

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Governor Andy Beshear is sounding the alarm in regards to the teacher shortage, among other education issues, that the state is currently facing.

The Governor’s administration has always touted itself as “education first.” Thursday, the Governor spoke out on his Education First Plan, rolled out a few weeks ago, which includes raising teacher and school staff pay, funding for universal Pre-K, funding for textbooks and professional development, launching a loan forgiveness program, supporting social and mental health, and restoring pensions.

During his Team Kentucky Update on Thursday, the Governor focused on two of those main goals: improving teacher pay and implementing universal Pre-K for four-year-olds. He says with the state’s surplus budget, the plan isn’t out of reach at all.

According to Gov. Beshear, Kentucky is 44th in the nation for teacher pay, and across the state, there are 11,000 teacher and school staff vacancies. He says the state has a $1.375 billion dollar surplus, the biggest in state history, and says that’s more than enough to help invest in teachers and students who suffered learning loss during the pandemic.

“You don’t build a better Commonwealth by selling your kids short and by not investing in their education,” said Gov. Beshear.

The Governor proposes starting with a 5% teacher pay raise across-the-board in addition to local raises. He also says universal Pre-K will help with learning loss and with the workforce, bringing more parents, who have been home with their kids, back on the job.

“It’s something we can and should afford. Not only will it ensure every single child is Kindergarten-ready, learning how to read–it’s certainly going to improve reading scores. But it’s also the number one thing we can do for the maternal workforce,” said Gov. Beshear.

Gov. Beshear says even with using the surplus funding for his Education First Plan, the Commonwealth would still have $919 million dollars left. That’s still the third largest state surplus in history. The Governor says it’s a “no-brainer.”

“With the biggest state surplus in history, can’t we take some of that money and pay teachers closer to what they’re worth…this is one of those where we should all be together. Team Kentucky,” said Gov. Beshear.

The Kentucky General Assembly will have the opportunity to review the plan during its 2023 legislative session.

Categories: Featured, Local News, News