Will Georgia Address Its Teacher Shortage?

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is hoping to win re-election on November 8. But Kemp is facing a tough challenge from Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams, a former leader in the Georgia House of Representatives and a voting rights advocate. Libertarian Party candidate Shane Hazel is also on the ballot. But he is only polling at about 2% and has no chance of winning the election. 

One of the most important issues in the campaign affects school-aged children directly: education. How will Georgia tackle the statewide teacher shortage and retain quality teachers? That’s a key issue in the election.

The shortage has led to overcrowded classrooms and the hiring of teachers who aren’t certified. Since Georgia isn’t the only state in the country facing a shortage, the current race for Governor could offer insights into how this challenge is addressed in other states.  


Skye interviews incumbent Governor Brian Kemp at a campaign event in Moultrie, Georgia. 


At a campaign event in Jonesboro, I asked Abrams how she would address the problem. “We’re not paying our teachers an adequate amount,” she said. 

Abrams suggested a raise of $11,000 for teachers, with a minimum starting salary of $50,000. She believes that providing a good education for children is a key priority. 

“Georgia has a lot of other challenges,” she said, “but if we make sure we have good teachers in the classroom, we can start to address the rest of the issues.”

At an October 17 debate between Abrams, Kemp, and Hazel, Kemp said that he is working to help “9,000 people get fully certified to be in the classroom.” To incentivize teachers to stay in the profession, he has approved a pay raise of $5,000. 


“We’re not paying our teachers an adequate amount,” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams told Skye. 


I spoke briefly with Governor Kemp at a Kemp for Farmers event in Moultrie. I asked him how he would expand healthcare for low-income families. “I just talked about 1,300 new physicians for rural healthcare,” he said. “We’ve had two waivers that would give more access to Medicaid [a federal and state program that helps cover health care costs for people in need]. Kemp added that he favors “job training, educational programs, and volunteering” to help address the lack of access to affordable care. 

Abrams and Kemp both drew enthusiastic supporters at their events. “I like Stacey Abrams’s views on handling COVID-19, women’s reproductive issues, and housing issues,” said voter Kim Richardson of Jonesboro. Kemp does not fully support women’s reproductive rights. 


Skye with Dr. Evelyn Winn-Dixon, the mayor of Riverdale, Georgia, and an Abrams supporter


At the Kemp event, voter Michael Green from Ringgold said that he supports the incumbent because of his work with “young people and putting every Georgian first.”

While Kemp is leading in the polls, Democrats hope that the large turnout in early voting so far will favor Abrams. Who will win? We’ll have to wait until November 8, when elections will take place in Georgia and around the country. Who’s running in your state? 


Skye in Moultrie, Georgia, with Kemp supporter Karly Hanson of Atlanta

Photos courtesy of the author