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Kentucky student teachers could be paid starting next year

JCPS teachers participated in a training on the new math curriculum at Atherton High Schools on July 18, 2023.
Jess Clark | Louisville Public Media
JCPS teachers participated in a training on the new math curriculum at Atherton High Schools on July 18, 2023.

House lawmakers want to give Kentucky student teachers a small stipend and join a handful of other states that pay teacher interns.

Kentucky teachers-in-training would be paid for their work starting next year under the House budget proposal.

Student teachers would receive a $5,000 stipend during their 70-day training period, earning about $9.52 an hour.

Most teachers are required to go through the 70-day training period in order to get fully certified or graduate a teacher preparation program. During that time, student teachers co-teach with a certified educator who supervises them and provides guidance.

Most states don’t pay student teachers for their work, and many say that’s a barrier to entering the teaching profession.

Amid a nationwide teacher shortage, a handful of states — including Michigan, Colorado, Oklahoma and Maryland — have started offering student teachers a stipend. A provision in the House budget would set aside $7.3 million to add Kentucky to the list.

House Bill 377, from Fort Mitchell Republican Rep. Kim Banta, stipulates that student teachers would receive their stipend in monthly installments during their training.

A stipend for student teachers was on the Kentucky Department of Education’s wishlist for this legislative session. KDE officials asked lawmakers for $6,500 to $8,000 per semester.

Banta’s measure would also create a student loan forgiveness pilot program, which would give students up to $5,000 in loan forgiveness per semester in a teacher preparation program. Recipients would be required to work for one year as a Kentucky teacher for each semester of loan forgiveness.

A quarter of Kentucky’s teachers left the classroom last year, and many of these were new educators,” Banta said in an emailed press release. “This legislation is directly targeting our incoming educators to support them throughout their educational process and will encourage more individuals to pursue teacher preparation programs. If we support them during their education and student teaching, then we will be positioned to better support them once they enter the classroom.”

Both the student teacher stipend provision and the loan forgiveness pilot have passed the House. They’re in the Senate for further consideration.