WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The issues surrounding teacher shortages here in Kansas is not a new conversation, but the numbers are. Currently, the state of Kansas is in need of just over 1,500 teachers and some fear that the number will grow into the school year. Dave Kirkbride, the director of the south central Kansas National Education Association, says if we are interested in tackling the problem we have to address what he says is the real issue.
“Our governor and legislature have deliberately starved public education,” says Kirkbride. “In my opinion, they would like to do away with public education and privatize everything; which is a huge mistake.”
Kirkbride believes teachers have been underpaid for years adding that he has seen sign on the Missouri border, asking teachers in Kansas to apply for their schools.
“Teachers here are fed up and underpaid in my opinion,” said Kirkbride. “The ones that really suffer here are the children in these classrooms.”
USD 259 is still down about 50 teachers and many other districts are down in higher percentages. Right now, there are more then 1,500 teacher openings here in Kansas, and according to the Kansas National Education Association, it’s the highest number they’ve seen in decades. KSN spoke with principals and teachers in USD 259, and while they agree that the pay and overall support could be better, they say if you’re in it for the money, you’re in the wrong business.
“We’re not just teaching academics,” explained Heather Swartz-Rogers, Gardiner Elementary principal. “We’re teaching social emotional skills, how to get along with others, how to be kind, how to have empathy and how to have resilience. It”s not just reading writing math and science.”
Some schools will be started the school year understaffed but teachers say they will just have to work to fill in the gaps.
“Everybody plays a part,” said Ashlie Dennis, 5th grade Gardiner teacher. “I believe it takes a village and everybody is a part of that village whether it’s the parents or the students or the teachers; we all have to work together for the common goal.”
In Wichita, there is a high need for special education teachers. If interested in any education vacancies in Kansas, click here.