Williams says state needs differentiated pay for teachers, Democrats say they're willing to 'take a look'

08/26/2011 10:57 AM

LOUISVILLE — In order to increase the quality of instruction in Kentucky’s classrooms, Republican gubernatorial candidate David Williams told a group of educators the state needs differentiated pay for its teachers.

Williams acknowledged it was a controversial issue while speaking to a a group called Kentucky Leads the Nation. Hes aid the state’s classrooms and the teaching profession are no longer attracting the top talent.

Instead, women who once thought their career ceiling was becoming a nurse or teacher are now becoming doctors and lawyers, Williams said, and differentiated pay is needed to attract the top men and women into the classrooms again.

But U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat from Louisville, disagreed with Williams’ stance. Yarmuth said instituting differentiated pay would amount to a “race to the bottom” with shool principals opting for teachers who would take lower salaries to help ease budget crunches.

The top two Democrats on the statewide level left the door open to at least looking at the issue, saying education in Kentucky is too important to ignore a potentially positive idea.

But like Yarmuth, House Speaker Greg Stumbo said the idea of differentiated pay sounds better than the likely execution of the policy.

Gov. Steve Beshear said he believes Senate Bill 1, legislation that undid the Kentucky Education Reform Act in favor of updated educational standards, allows some openings from differentiated pay.

Beshear, a Democrat running for re-election against Williams, said he’s been willing to take a deeper look at the issue, but didn’t commit to taking a side at this point.

-Reporting and video production by Kenny Colston


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