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Thousands of teaching positions open in Kentucky just weeks before school begins

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In just a few short weeks, children will be headed back to class, but in the commonwealth of Kentucky, there is a critical teacher shortage. (WKRC)

COVINGTON, Ky. (WKRC) - In just a few short weeks, children will be headed back to class, but in the commonwealth of Kentucky, there is a critical teacher shortage.

It is raising red flags about the quality of education students will receive when they return to school. As of the beginning of 2019, there were 5,000 teaching jobs open in Kentucky.

Wayne Lewis is the Kentucky Commissioner of Education.

“Nationally, as well as in Kentucky, we are challenged with a declining number of young people who are going into teacher education programs,” Lewis said.

There are several reasons for the shortage, including attrition and funding. Teachers can go to other areas and make more money.

“We lose lots of our young, promising teachers within the first five years of teaching, and when you couple that with a declining enrollment, you run into real shortage areas,“ Lewis said. “Then, as well, historically, we have relied on many women and people of color going into the profession when, frankly, there were limited options for women and people of color whereas now there are lots more options.”

The critical shortages are in the areas of special education, career and technical, world language teachers and secondary math and science teachers.

Lewis says among the hardest-hit areas in Kentucky are mostly in the eastern part of the commonwealth where the population is smaller. Before children head back, education officials are hoping to have more of those positions filled.

Lewis said, “Some of our young people are going to be in classrooms where their teachers have been emergency certified, meaning that we have temporarily given them a certification, but that person does not have the background, the qualifications to be able to teach in that particular area or they will have a substitute teacher.“

Kentucky is launching a new campaign called, “Go Teach KY." The goal is to encourage more people to explore teaching careers and help with the shortage.