FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – The Latest on teacher walkouts and a rally in Kentucky (all times local):
Thousands of teachers are rallying outside the Kentucky Capitol to call for more state funding for education.
The demonstration Friday morning had a festival-like atmosphere as teachers sat in lawn chairs or sprawled out on blankets. They chanted "vote them out" and "we love our children."
The teachers are upset with Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s vetoes of budget and revenue bills. The GOP-controlled Legislature is expected to decide Friday whether they will accept or reject the vetoes and the votes are expected to be close.
Stephanie Ikanovic was one of the teachers at the rally. She has been teaching for more than two decades. She says she would rather be in the classroom Friday morning but she is so worried about education spending that she decided to miss work to make sure her voice was heard.
Kentucky police say they might limit the number of teachers inside the state Capitol as thousands are expected to protest the governor’s vetoes of the state budget.
A news release from the Kentucky State Police says crowd size inside the Capitol and the Annex building "may be limited" for safety reasons. Police officers are checking IDs of state workers and others entering through the Capitol’s alternate entrances.
Hundreds of teachers have gathered on the front steps of the Capitol before a 9 a.m. rally. Most teachers and school staff arrived on school buses, disembarking while the Crosby Stills, Nash and Young song "Teach Your Children" played from some loud speakers.
Teachers who clogged the halls of Kentucky’s Capitol when lawmakers last met are set to return in force as they loudly demand that the legislature defy a Republican governor and restore increases in education funding.
School was canceled in more than 30 districts statewide – including Kentucky’s two largest in Louisville and Lexington – to accommodate all the teachers and other school workers wanting to attend the latest rally. Other districts sent delegations but kept classes open.
Kentucky lawmakers are reconvening Friday for a scheduled two-day wrap-up of the legislative session. They’re likely to get a boisterous reception from teachers.
Kentucky’s unrest comes as teachers in Oklahoma and Arizona have protested low funding and teacher pay. The demonstrations were inspired by West Virginia teachers, whose nine-day walkout earlier this year led to a 5 percent pay increase.
In Kentucky, teacher anger has boiled over amid changes to their pension system and a battle for more education funding.