Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: April 17

Published 10:02 am Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Thumbs Up: Teachers fighting for funding

Boyle and Danville teachers and administrators gathered together Thursday for a spirited rally in Weisiger Park, showing support for strong education funding in Kentucky.

Many of them then carried that message to Frankfort on Friday, as thousands from around the state converged on the Capitol to pressure lawmakers to override Gov. Matt Bevin’s vetoes of three bills and prevent potentially drastic cuts to our public school systems.

Email newsletter signup

It was not the first time teachers made their voices heard during this year’s legislative session — teachers have amassed in Frankfort multiple times, no doubt affecting the course of legislation that would have otherwise decimated, even bankrupted some public school districts.

We’re proud of our teachers for fighting for what they believe is right last week, and we’re even more impressed with the staying power of teachers on issues of pensions and educational funding. It’s relatively easy to show up once and hold a big event; it can even be fun. It’s a lot harder to hang around and continue the fight.

If teachers had traveled to Frankfort once, then hung up their car keys and stayed at home the rest of the general session, no doubt legislators wouldn’t have felt the pressure they did to veer away from slashing education funding. Instead, teachers stuck with it, kept showing up and ultimately got results.

That shows we have good teachers, because they no doubt use those same skills in the classroom — they stick with our children and help them succeed no matter what.

Thumbs Down: Governor’s comments about teachers

While teachers were in Frankfort Friday to voice their support for educating children, Gov. Matt Bevin decided to accuse them of being accessories to child abuse.

Asked about the crowd at the Capitol, Bevin first belittled teachers, saying people seemed to just be “hanging out,” “leaving trash around” and “taking the day off.” He then launched into an extremely inappropriate series of comments, in which he “guarantee(d)” that children in Kentucky had been sexually assaulted, physically assaulted or otherwise harmed because some school districts had canceled classes.

Danville, Boyle, Lincoln, Garrard and Mercer schools were among those closed on Friday, meaning our local teachers are among those Bevin alleged contributed to child abuse. You probably know some local teachers. You may be married to one, a parent to one, a child of one, or be on yourself. You were almost certainly taught by one. So you already know that Bevin’s allegation is patently absurd, mean-spirited and manipulative.

With his comments, Bevin proved he’s not interested in honest debate over the real issues of funding education. Teachers fought fairly to protect school dollars by requesting time off and traveling to Frankfort; Bevin tried to turn it into a lewd soap-opera argument to distract from actual discussion.

Fortunately, pretty much no one in Frankfort — or anywhere in the country — was buying it. The state House, led by Republicans, rightly condemned Bevin’s comments.

On Sunday, Bevin issued an apology of sorts for his comments, but stopped short of admitting he was wrong, just that he had failed to communicate well enough and he was sorry people had misunderstood his intentions.

We think Bevin’s intentions were crystal clear: He wanted to shame teachers for not letting him have his way.