The Kentucky Education Association wants teachers to return to the classroom Monday.
The KEA posted a statement on its Facebook page Friday afternoon titled “KEA Delegate Assembly unanimously calls on educators to keep advocating for students and schools,” urging teachers to “continue your legislative advocacy back home by speaking directly with your elected senators and representatives.”
“Our students need us to show up for them in classrooms and schools,” the statement said. “We urge educators statewide not to allow our united efforts to be compromised by continued calls for action that deprive students, parents and communities of the educational services we provide.”
A couple hours later, after several teachers posted comments expressing disappointment with KEA’s decision to discourage work stoppages, the group added another sentence to its statement that said “collective actions are options available to advocate for children and public education when used strategically and responsibly to achieve specific outcomes.”
Most Kentucky school systems are set to resume classes Monday after a week of spring break, which was preceded by widespread school closures on March 30 as many teachers across the state participated in sick-outs to protest a surprise pension overhaul bill that lawmakers approved after 10 p.m. on March 29.
Emboldened by teacher strikes in West Virginia and Oklahoma, thousands of Kentucky teachers also attended a Capitol rally last Monday against the pension bill, which puts future teachers into a hybrid cash-balance plan instead of a traditional pension and lengthens the time they must work before being eligible for retirement benefits.
When KEA president Stephanie Winkler was asked at a March 30 news conference if work stoppages were planned, she said every option is on the table but noted that state law prohibits strikes.
The KEA’s Facebook post noted that legislators will not return to Frankfort until April 13.
“We, the more than 400 representatives to the KEA Delegate Assembly, elected from every county in the Commonwealth, unanimously call on our colleagues to act collectively as a united voice under the democratically elected leadership of KEA,” it said.
It made no mention of what KEA leaders would do if Gov. Matt Bevin uses his veto authority on legislation that affects teachers.