Reporter Mike James had an interesting story on Sunday about the dwindling number of applicants for teacher jobs in Eastern Kentucky.
Is this a surprise? Of course not.
Mike reported five years ago 60 or more highly qualified teachers would apply for any open position in the Greenup County School District, Superintendent Traysea Moresea said.
Now the average is 15 applicants.
The same is true in Russell schools, where a decade ago, 50 candidates would vie for each teaching job, Superintendent Sean Horne said.
These days, the district gets six to eight applicants for a position — enough to hire a well-qualified teacher, but not enough to be as choosy as in the past.
“There are not as many people going into education. There has been a dramatic drop in enrollment (in college education programs),” Moresea said.
“We have seen a decrease in applications for open positions over the past several years,” Fairview Superintendent Jackie Risden-Smith said.
James reported the the pool is even sparser for high-demand areas like math, science and special needs.
Our take is this: teachers aren't paid enough. It is that simple. Yes they get a pension although that system is increasingly under attack. They are also not eligible for Social Security. Yes we know there are some out there scoffing at all of this but we speak the truth -- when you put in the long hours, hard work, get the education necessary and factor in what it takes to do this job, the pay is not adequate. Also, if you have reached the education levels necessary, one has to ask, why would a teacher stay in Kentucky when other states pay more while not trying to dramatically reform the pension system?
We've stated our position on pensions before. Reform is needed. Funding is needed. In addition, what is really needed to draw more teachers to the profession?
In our view theanswer is simple: Higher pay. Kentucky has to ask itself, do we truly value education? If so the state is going to have to step up and do what the private sector does, which is offer the compensation necessary to create the demand.