Governor Beshear, educators present Education First Plan

Governor Beshear was in Louisville Wednesday to present his administration’s Education First Plan. He was joined by other educators at Eastern High School.
Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 10:42 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Governor Beshear was in Louisville on Wednesday to present his administration’s Education First Plan.

He was joined by other educators at Eastern High School.

There’s a lot of important aspects to the plan, such universal Pre-K, loan forgiveness, mental health services, and more.

However on Wednesday, a lot of focus was put on teachers and their struggles.

Governor Beshear said when pensions were cut for new teachers, Kentucky was dealt a huge blow.

“You deserve better, you deserve more,” Beshear said. “You shouldn’t have to work a second job just to do something that society desperately needs you to do.”

For some teachers, that’s just an unfortunate reality.

“I could tell you about my colleagues selling plasma to make ends meet, driving Ubers after school to pay their bills,” Emilie McKiernan Blanton, a teacher at Southern High School said.

She’s experienced the teacher shortage not just with her own job, but with her kids too. She says her kids have gone through school without having teachers for some of their classes.

Except, she doesn’t consider it a shortage.

“It’s not really a teacher shortage, it’s a shortage of people willing to work in these conditions for that money,” McKiernan Blanton said.

Beshear said new teachers average a little over $37,000 a year.

He’s proposing a 5% raise for all school staff and to restore pension plans.

“Before I drift asleep, I think about my students,” Roger Crume, a teacher at Eastern said.

Crume said the challenges are getting harder every day.

“It takes special people to meet special challenges,” Crume said. “Currently there are 300 teaching vacancies for special people in Jefferson County.”

Crume said higher wages won’t solve everything, but it can help get people to choose teaching as an option.

“Higher wages will give teachers the security needed to pour into kids they teach without reservation or de-prioritization because of a second job or financial stress,” Crume said.

Beshear said the general assembly can pass this plan despite it not being a budget year. He said they can do everything on this plan and still have on of the largest budget surpluses in state history.

The general assembly is set to reconvene on February 7.