FRANKFORT< KY. (LEX 18) — The fight over public education in Kentucky remains a big topic in the upcoming gubernatorial election.
Many times over the last two years, Andy Beshear - who is now the democratic candidate for Governor - has promised to protect teachers. As Attorney General, he went to court against Governor Matt Bevin over teachers' pensions.
On Wednesday, Beshear and his running mate, teacher Jacqueline Coleman, promised to do more for Kentucky's teachers.
"When the Beshear/Coleman ticket wins, the war on public education will end immediately," said Beshear.
They announced their plan to "stop the bullying, raise the pay." The plan includes an immediate $2,000 across-the-board pay raise for all public school teachers in Kentucky. Similar policies have been passed in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Oklahoma in the past year.
When it comes to cost in Kentucky, Beshear believes the plan would be about $84 million a year.
"This funding will be included in our very first budget, that we will offer in January," said Beshear.
But the Matt Bevin campaign doubts that will happen.
“More unfunded campaign promises from a career politician," said Campaign Manager Davis Paine. "Gov. Bevin has made education a top priority of his administration. He is the first Governor to fully fund teachers' pensions after years of underfunding by Gov. Steve Beshear and past administrations. Under Gov. Bevin’s leadership, SEEK per-pupil spending is at record levels, and 100 percent of lottery funds are going toward education. Andy Beshear is just trying to distract from his support of Hillary Clinton and the liberal agenda that will take our state backwards.”
However, when asked about Gov. Bevin's doubts, Beshear said "watch me."
In addition to the $2,000 pay raise, Beshear's plan includes student loan forgiveness for teachers, promoting continuing education for teachers, and working with teachers.
"Andy and Jacqueline will also immediately stop the threats to fine educators who show up at the Capitol to make their voices heard," said a press release from the Beshear/Coleman campaign.
Kentucky Education Association President Eddie Campbell released the following statement on Beshear's plan, "Gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear and Lt. Governor candidate Jacqueline Coleman spoke directly to Kentucky educators today in Frankfort to discuss their educational priorities and commitment to investing in our public schools. They outlined their plan of action to stop the bullying and raise the pay of teachers. To see these candidates truly partnering with educators should be a huge relief to every educator in the Commonwealth, after more than three years of continued personal and professional attacks by Governor Bevin. It is clear through these proposals outlined today that Andy Beshear is actively listening to our concerns about the future of public education and the teaching profession. Simply put, educators are being heard by the Beshear campaign and will be a true partner in a Beshear Administration.
To see these candidates truly partnering with educators should be a huge relief to every educator in the Commonwealth, after more than three years of continued personal and professional attacks by Governor Bevin. It is clear through these proposals outlined today that Andy Beshear is actively listening to our concerns about the future of public education and the teaching profession. Simply put, educators are being heard by the Beshear campaign and will be a true partner in a Beshear Administration. Under Governor Bevin’s tenure, Kentucky schools have been underfunded and teacher pay has been in the lower half of the national average. It’s clear public education and public educators have not been, nor will they be a, a priority in a Bevin Administration. Andy Beshear has listened to the needs of educators and included their solutions in his actions. His proposal to provide an immediate $2,000 across-the-board pay raise to every public teacher in Kentucky and ensure that no starting teacher pay will be below $40,000 by 2022, illustrates his commitment to the professionalism of our teachers, the health of our public schools, and the quality of education our children will get moving toward a better future for the Commonwealth.”