Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman visits Bowling Green High School, talks Education First Plan

Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman began discussing how the initiative will help in combating the worsening teacher shortage in Kentucky.
Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 10:19 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman visited Bowling Green High School to speak on her and Governor Andy Beshear’s Education First Plan.

“As the highest elected mother and teacher in Kentucky, this education first plan is personal to me,” Coleman said. “I’ve walked in the shoes of the educators who wake up every day with one goal, to help kids in their classrooms become better today than they were yesterday.”

Coleman began by discussing how the plan will help in combating the worsening teacher shortage in Kentucky. The plan proposes a five percent pay raise for teachers, new teacher loan forgiveness and bringing back the state’s pension plan.

“When we look at how we can recruit and retain more teachers, that defined benefit plan is the number one reason that we see people not entering the workforce now or leaving the workforce now, because it’s not going to be there for them in the end,” Coleman said.

Coleman also addressed the current demand for more funding from Warren County Public Schools Superintendent Rob Clayton.

“There are zero dollars in our budget for textbooks and technology for our students,” Coleman said. “I don’t know how that is possible, and I feel for our teachers every day having to make ends meet and make it work with no help and no support.”

Universal pre-K was a hot topic as well, with the Lieutenant Governor emphasizing how it would help not just students, but the whole family unit.

“Universal pre K helps parents rejoin the workforce, and also ensures that every child walks through the door kindergarten ready,” Coleman said. “Currently, two thirds of our kids walked through the door on the first day of kindergarten ill prepared.”

Though Coleman’s biggest topic of the night was addressing students’ mental health in schools.

Coleman criticized the school system for not talking with students about mental health as well as the effects acts like Senate Bill 150, which would permit teachers to use the pronouns they see fit for students among other things, could have on the student body.

“This bill does nothing to help the needs of those students every single day. That is what we should be focused on, is meeting the needs of our students and not playing political games with our schools,” Coleman said.

When asked how the education plan would be funded, Coleman said the state has more than enough money to execute it.

“We have, in addition to the record economic development that we’ve seen in Kentucky, with the largest rainy day fund that Kentucky’s ever seen,” Coleman said. “We could pay for every single school employee in Kentucky to have a 5 percent raise across the board, fund universal pre-K for every four year old, and still have the third largest budget surplus in Kentucky’s history.”