Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin took to Facebook Live late Friday to excoriate former Fayette County Superintendent Tom Shelton for calling on schools to be dismissed so teachers could protest during a potential special session on pension reform.
Reading a letter he said was written by Shelton, the Executive Director of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents, Bevin said Shelton laid out each day schools in certain areas of Kentucky would be dismissed so teachers could protest the pension reforms.
Bevin has not yet set a date for the special session.
“What he’s calling for is for schools to be shut down, for your children to be sent home, so that teachers and superintendents and other people can come over and protest us saving the pension system,” Bevin said.
Bevin said Shelton and teachers were not offering solutions to address the state’s pension problem and instead were simply trying to disrupt the process.
“Bringing mayhem to Kentucky, disrupting teachers, disrupting students, disrupting families, disrupting the state’s economy, to prevent us from solving this crisis, this isn’t the solution, it’s not the right thing to do, shame on you for even calling for this.”
Shelton told the Herald-Leader at about 6:45 p.m. Friday that he had not seen the governor’s video. On the rally plan, Shelton said that is just a proposed plan under consideration “for an event that has not happened yet in order to allow those affected by the decision to be part of the process. It’s a local decision if it happens, and any day missed would have to be made up.”
Teachers and superintendents have been critical of a pension plan released by the Republican leadership in Frankfort earlier last week that, among other things, would change the way current and future teachers receive their retirement benefits, and would freeze cost-of-living adjustments for five years for current retirees.
The Kentucky Education Association held forums throughout the state this week so teachers could voice their issues with the proposal. During a panel in Madison County, when asked for solutions, several teachers suggested raising taxes, a solution Republicans in Frankfort oppose.
Bevin did not address any of the issues teachers have with the proposal, instead laying out a black-and-white scenario in which either the system would fail, or the proposed changes would “save” the system.
“It’s not about what’s in the best interest for our students,” Bevin said. “It’s not about what’s in the best interest of our teachers. Frankly, our teachers want to teach.”
Bevin took several breaks while reading the letter to stress what it would mean if schools closed so teachers could protest.
“He wants you to have to stay home from work,” Bevin said. “He wants you to have to find day care for your children. He wants your life to be disrupted so that he can help himself politically.”
Bevin also read out Shelton’s office telephone number (while pointing out that he had Shelton’s cellphone number, but he wouldn’t provide it “out of respect for him”) so that viewers could “tell him whether or not they thought this was a good idea.”