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The Kentucky Board of Education wants student teachers to get paid

Students walk with "marshmallow feet" down the hallways at Wilder Elementary.
J. Tyler Franklin
Students walk with "marshmallow feet" down the hallways at Wilder Elementary.

The Kentucky Board of Education on Tuesday approved a list of legislative priorities for 2024, including a proposed stipend of up to $8,000 per semester for student teachers.

Most people who want to become certified teachers in Kentucky have to complete at least 70 days of full-time student teaching. Student teachers currently do not get paid for that work, which many say is a barrier to entering the profession.

The state is facing a dire teacher shortage, and public officials are under pressure to increase the pipeline of educators.

Brian Perry, Director of Government Relations for the Kentucky Department of Education, said paying student teachers was a “unifying topic” among legislators.

Perry said a “preferred” option would pay student teachers $8,000 per semester, which works out to about $15 an hour for a student teacher working 7.5 hours a day for 70 days. He floated another option that would pay student teachers $6,500 per semester.

“Our preference from the department standpoint is that there would be no strings attached to this,” Perry said, meaning KDE does not want lawmakers to create additional requirements for student teachers receiving the stipend, such as staying in state for a length of time.

Other legislative priorities the board approved include an 8% increase to the state’s contribution tothe student spending formula, known as SEEK. The board is also asking lawmakers to fully fund transportation for all school districts. Lawmakers committed to giving districts a certain amount of funding for transportation each year in the landmark Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990. However, lawmakers have ignored the commitment every year since 2005.

Other priorities include:

  • Funding for all “at-risk” 3- and 4-year-olds to attend state-funded preschool
  • Investment in programs that train educators
  • More funding and support for schools struggling to meet the needs of certain subgroups of students (TSI schools)
  • Funding for technology
  • More literacy coaches to support early reading instruction
  • Revising the funding formula for Career and Technical Education programs to make them more equitable across the state
  • Support for the Kentucky School for the Deaf and Kentucky School for the Blind
  • Flexibility with funding for Advanced Placement so that students and teachers can use the funds on supports aside from exam costs
  • Remove unused reporting requirements
  • Make permanent a pilot program that gave districts more local control over facility construction

The 2024 legislative session begins on Jan. 2.
Support for this story was provided in part by the Jewish Heritage Fund.

News Youth Reporting
Jess Clark is LPMs Education and Learning Reporter. Email Jess at jclark@lpm.org.

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