Bevin should stop attacking teachers, lighten regulations

Published 6:11 am Friday, November 16, 2018


Contributing columnist

Kentucky governor Matt Bevin is mad. He is mad at public school teachers. The reason he’s mad isn’t crystal clear. When he was campaigning, he made all sorts of statements claiming he was a supporter of public school education and teachers. I suspect it was because he couldn’t win without the support of Kentucky’s teachers. However, after he assumed his throne, he turned on teachers like the Big Bad Wolf turned on the chick in the red cloak.

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Bevin has called teachers selfish and ignorant.


He has clearly never met a Kentucky public school teacher. I suspect teachers intimidate Bevin with their command of language and insistence on the use of common sense. He sneers in contempt at the professionals who are dedicated to their students. When he is in a roomful of teachers, he is never the smartest person in the room.

Bevin is intimidated because he knows he can’t carry a torch to the education professionals in our state. He is a carpetbagger here to syphon what he can from our tax coffers until he is called up to Washington, D.C. to join the sycophants.

But I digress.

Bevin stated he wants to “break the backs” of the Kentucky Educators Association, the union that represents the classroom professionals in our state. He is all about power and the KEA usurps what he perceives as his power. He cannot force them to follow his “educational philosophy.” He can’t force them to vote for him. They have delivered contusions to his fragile ego from which he may never recover.

In his effort to break public education in Kentucky, he has named his charter school acolyte, Wayne Lewis, as state education commissioner. Lewis is pushing the legislature to permanently fund charter schools.

The legislature is required to provide a method of moving state education funds from public schools to charter schools in order for charter schools to receive state funds. Other regulatory provisions from the legislature are not yet in place, so funding them is a moot point. This move is just Lewis and Bevin flexing for their lobbyists and financial backers.

Charter schools sound almost like public schools when you read about them. Charter schools are supposed to accept all students, cannot discriminate, are required to adhere to state laws and policy, but under their charters, can specialize in the curriculum offered. They can make decisions without some of the cumbersome regulations public schools are required to follow.

This logic confounds me. If charter schools allow for specialized curriculum and loosened regulations, why can’t the legislature just do that for public schools?

Professional educators are burdened with Sisyphean requirements and expectations. The closer they get to meeting the current requirements, the more are added or changed, to the point that they never get to the top of the mountain.

Instead of adding charter schools to the state, why can’t Bevin, Lewis, the NEA and the legislature work together to lighten the regulatory load on teachers and administrators?

Let teachers teach.

Many of the overburdensome requirements are attached to accountability. State testing is a requirement for public and charter schools. Unfortunately for all involved in state testing, the target moves from year to year. It’s next to impossible to get valid comparisons because the items being measured change with the wind.

Instead of spending millions on ever-changing, non-valid testing, use that money to shore up materials for teachers to use in the classrooms. Stop cutting the public school budget to the point that schools can barely function. Stop using schools and students as political weapons.

Gov. Bevin, step down from your throne, toss off your cape, and throw away your scepter. If you truly want what is best for Kentucky students, back off your rhetoric and start listening. You are currently sacrificing the future of our most vulnerable students in order to advance your political career and fatten up your bank account. Do the job you were elected to do and stop being so despicable.

G. Elaine Wilson-Reddy, JD, is a professional educator, consultant and advocate. She lives in Danville.