In Oklahoma, despite threats by the ignorant Betsy DeVos, teachers continue their walk-out for a second week.
In Kentucky teachers are back in classrooms.
At least for the moment.
But there are growing divisions among Kentucky educators about how to proceed.
Gov. Matt Bevin promises to veto the legislature’s proposed two-year state budget and a tax bill that generates hundreds of millions of dollars to help fund it.
The legislature has already passed a pension theft bill, secretly attaching it to another bill dealing with the state’s sewers.
Kentucky teachers stayed out of school on the Friday before Spring break to protest the failure of the state of Kentucky to support public education. Kentucky has been part of the national teacher revolt that has rolled through West Virginia, Oklahoma and Arizona.
Yesterday, Monday, many Kentucky teachers were ready to stay out again. The Kentucky Education Association (KEA) opposed a continued walkout.
Kentucky is a right-to-work state. One Kentucky teacher friend of mine echoes the views of many educators in Kentucky when he referred to the KEA as “calcified.”
“There are a growing number of worried teachers and public education people who see the ship sinking here in Kentucky. Now that the governor has vetoed the budget, and the minimal taxes (dog grooming, bowling alley fees, etc.) which only promised to raise a couple of million dollars – with only two days remaining in the long session, they realize that they have not been well served by their self-enriching calcified teacher unions.”
A Pike group official said the effort in that Eastern Kentucky county goes against the wishes of the Kentucky Education Association, which has taken a cautious approach to school closures that is frustrating many Pike County teachers.
“(KEA) did not want us to announce that we were calling for a walkout on Friday,” said Patricia Lea Collins, a Pike County Strong administrator and the director of Pike County Schools’ Head Start program.
Collins said many Pike County teachers wanted schools to close all week, and that the group’s announcement gave teachers a plan of action that includes rallies and meetings throughout the week, culminating with the rally in Frankfort.
“Teachers on Thursday night need to start calling in with that sewer flu so that (Pike County Schools Superintendent) Mr. Adkins can cancel school Friday and get us there,” said Megan Smith, a teacher at Belfry Middle School, during the group’s video announcement.
Without Pike County Strong’s announcement Sunday night, Collins said, many teachers would have called in sick Monday, closing schools throughout the county.
“They were getting radical,” Collins said. “They wanted to make a statement.”
The “sewer flu” refers to the move by House Republicans to attach a pension theft bill to another bill that had dealt with sewer regulations.
The proposal would place teachers hired after Jan. 1, 2019 in a defined contribution pension rather than the existing defined benefit plan. It would require them to work longer before becoming eligible for retirement. The “inviolable contract” that protects reduction in future employee benefits would be limited to account balances in the new plan.