A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Dennis Keene: Not a step forward to remove master’s degree requirement for Kentucky’s teachers

When the Bevin administration removed the master’s degree (Rank II) requirement for Kentucky’s teachers within the first ten years of their teaching career, it took one more swipe at professional standards with regard to Kentucky’s teachers and public schools. The requirement that our teachers receive advanced degrees was a significant investment made by Kentucky’s teachers to advance their education and training on behalf of the students.

Weakening the requirements for classroom teachers in Kentucky is not a positive step forward, but rather a giant move toward dumbing down public education. For 50 years, Kentucky’s teachers have been proud of the high standards demanded of them, which have in turn resulted in improved test scores throughout the decades since Kentucky’s education reform in 1990.

Teacher and student (Photo by Bobby Ellis, Kentucky Teacher)

In a departure from decades of General Assembly’s attempts at improving and equalizing public education for all of Kentucky’s children, it has become clear that Governor Bevin’s agenda of lowering wages for teachers and siphoning funding for charter schools, is creating a climate that makes recruiting and retaining top-quality teachers more difficult. We already lose highly skilled teachers each year to public school districts in Ohio that offer higher pay for teachers.

Among the financial ramifications, Kentucky’s public universities will also feel the impact of the elimination of the Rank II requirement. Master’s degree programs are offered during the summer months for teachers while campuses are generally empty. These programs help offset the cost of operations and faculty during the slowest period.

In order to achieve the greatest possible outcome for students, Kentucky’s teachers must be the most highly qualified. A vision for student success begins and ends with the classroom teacher. The elimination of the advanced degree requirement sends a statement that the Commonwealth no longer values the most highly qualified professionals, entrusted with the future, our children.

Representative Keene served as Chairman of the Licensing, & Occupations Regulations Committee in the House of Representatives prior to being elected to House Democratic Caucus Chairman in 2017. Keene has served the citizens of the 67th District (Newport, Bellevue, Dayton, Silver Grove, Melbourne, Highland Heights, Southgate, and Wilder) in Campbell County since 2005. Keene is an economic development advisor for EGC Construction.

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One Comment

  1. Roger Auge II says:

    Dennis Keene is totally correct in his plea to maintain standards for teachers. The Bevin administration wants to destroy the Kentucky Education Associaion’s (KEA) power in the state. He is covering his tail but he working to bust the union. Meanwhile, teachers and students get hurt; band aids are thrown at charter schools, which is a tool of the right which thinks the government should not be in the education business. Thanks to Dennis Keene, we might stay on the correct path.

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