A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Could protesting teachers be returning to Frankfort on Friday?

By Mark Maynard
Kentucky Today

Gov. Matt Bevin referred to the Kentucky Education Association, not the teachers who belong to the union, as the problem during his Monday press conference announcing he was vetoing the budget and tax reform bills.

Nevertheless, when lawmakers return to Frankfort on Friday to consider overrides to the governor’s veto actions, they could be facing more protesting teachers, much like the massive showing on March 30 when thousands came to the Capitol to make their voices heard.

The Jefferson County teachers union said in a Facebook post that teachers with available personal days should take Friday off and travel to Frankfort for a protest. The post did say it would “not be appropriate to use a sick day for this purpose.”

Pike County Strong, a public education advocacy group, is asking its teachers to call in sick Thursday night so schools could close Friday and allow teachers to take their protest to Frankfort.

“Teachers on Thursday night need to start calling in with that sewer flu so that (Pike County Superintendent) Mr. Adkins can cancel school Friday and get us there,” said Megan Smith, a Belfry Middle School teacher, in the group’s video announcement.

The “sewer flu” refers to Senate Bill 151 that originally dealt with sewer regulations that was overhauled into a state pension system bill.

The storm seems to be brewing across the state.

Bevin made it clear in his press conference that a teacher walkout would be “illegal” and “a mistake.”

“It’s illegal for them to strike in this state. I would not advise that, I wouldn’t, I think it would be a mistake,” he said.

Bevin insisted it wasn’t the teachers but the KEA where the problem exists.

“The issue isn’t the teachers. Teachers want to teach their children,” Bevin said. “The KEA has been a problem.”

In a statement, KEA President Stephanie Winkler bristled at the suggestion that the union is the problem.

“KEA is 45,000 women and men who serve in every community in Kentucky, supporting and training our children for the jobs they will do when they take their places in the adult world. KEA members live, work and pay taxes in every community in this state,” Winkler said. “If the governor wants to work with ‘job creators and taxpayers’ why does he insist on insulting so many people who do both?”

The KEA has not asked for a walkout or sickout on Friday but teachers across the state are becoming frustrated.

The union encouraged teachers to return to work Monday and for people to “wear red for public ed.”

Following Bevin’s morning press conference, they are now asking teachers to call legislators and tell them to override the vetoes.

“The Governor’s veto of a budget that includes hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue dedicated to public education is nothing short of reprehensible because it will harm every public school student in our Commonwealth,” Jefferson County Teachers Association President Brent McKim said in a statement. “On behalf of the 6,000 dedicated public school educators JCTA represents, we call on the members of the General Assembly to do the right thing for the children of our Commonwealth by overriding the Governor’s budget and revenue vetos.”

The KEA said in a Facebook statement they agreed with Bevin that House Bill 200 and House Bill 366 are far from perfect.

“But instead of sending the legislature back to square one and forcing a special session that the citizens of Kentucky should not have to pay for, the Governor should sign both bills and begin doing now what he should have been doing all along: engaging the legislature and the people of Kentucky in constructive, forward-looking, bipartisan discussions aimed at finding new solutions to the revenue challenges facing the Commonwealth.”


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