FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) – Teachers are making their presence known as several education bills are discussed on the floor.
Jefferson County Public Schools employees were at the capitol as Senate Bill 250, which would give the superintendent of JCPS more power over personnel and spending, passed the House with a vote of 54-42.
It was the fourth time in two weeks that JCPS had to close because it did not have enough substitutes to cover for absent teachers.
Prior to the closure announcement, Governor Matt Bevin shared a video on his Facebook page with the caption “SICK OF SICKOUTS?”
“I wanted to speak briefly to you something that has been very topical and I think parents across Kentucky are very appropriately getting a little weary of and that is pretending to be sick when you’re not sick, and doing this at the expense of the very students that public education is intended to serve. This is about the students and it should be about the students. Not about what’s in the best interest of the KEA or any of these other groups that want to attract attention and resources and power to themselves. This about the teachers themselves and their ability to do the job of educating kids, because, at the end of the day, this is about the kids. The idea that we would be calling in sick, anybody, and doing it at the expense of kids, including testing for ACTs and prep for this, the ability for kids whose livelihoods as they head into post-secondary world are dependent on what’s happening now, being disrupted because of the handful of people who are putting their own interests ahead of the kids, it’s just not acceptable,” said the governor.
The governor then accused Jefferson County’s teacher union of “reloading” sick days.
KEA released a statement Tuesday morning in response to the remarks:
Educators across Kentucky are defending attacks on public education funding by appealing to their elected officials. Through personal appeals, phone calls, emails or texts, thousands of educators, parents and concerned citizens have voiced their approval or opposition to legislation that affects our students and our public schools. In every county and school system, those who support public education are being heard. The governor has been well quoted for his disdain of the legislative process and the activism of those who have opposed some of his policies.
Educators are sick and tired of being brushed off and vilified by this governor who has repeatedly disregarded our input and importance to the future of our Commonwealth. Citizens from Pikeville to Paducah have stood behind our efforts because they understand that we are standing up for their children and our students. We applaud the funding of pensions. We hope the governor applauds the activism and passion that educators have for our public schools and our students. We are Republicans, Independents and Democrats. But first we are educators who support public education. Where there is disagreement with our elected officials, educators will continue to have our voice heard in Frankfort.
KEA President Stephanie Winkler spoke with LEX 18 following the committee hearing saying she was appalled by the comments.
“That he would deny folks the right to come and do that, and condemn us for being civically engaged and to assemble and to speak our voice, and to advocate for the right of every child to have a free and appropriate public education, to me it’s astonishing that anyone would want to advocate that way,” said Winkler.
The regular session is continuing into the late night hours and teachers will remain at the capitol through the day.