Education

‘You should be offended by this.’ Jefferson County teachers stage another sickout

Governor Matt Bevin speaks about teacher sickouts

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin released a Facebook video about recent teacher sickouts.
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Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin released a Facebook video about recent teacher sickouts.

With about a third of teachers absent and too few substitute teachers to safely cover a large number of classes, Jefferson County closed schools Tuesday, the district’s website said.

It was the fourth sickout by Jefferson County educators in the last two weeks. Fayette County schools remained open Tuesday. Teachers there held a sickout Feb. 28 in protest of legislation in the 2019 General Assembly.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin in a video Monday said parents and taxpayers should be offended by the “power-hungry’ and “money-hungry” people who staged another sickout that was bad for students who should be in classrooms learning.

“Being disrupted by the handful of people putting their own interests ahead of the kids is just not acceptable,” Bevin said. “It shouldn’t be acceptable to anyone.”

He blamed the Kentucky Education Association and the Jefferson County Teachers Association.

The Courier-Journal reported that a deal “brokered by Jefferson County Public Schools and its teachers union to avert another ‘sickout’-induced shutdown has failed.”

Under a deal with the Jefferson County Teachers Association, district officials had decided they would allow 500 educators to go to Frankfort from Tuesday through Thursday.

Statewide advocacy groups, including KEA and KY 120 United, had called for teachers to go to work on Tuesday.

But a splinter group called JCPS Leads had apparently called for the sickout, the Courier-Journal reported. The newspaper reported that teachers wanted to make sure that House Bill 205 which would have resulted in a scholarship tax credit program for Kentucky did not pass.

Jefferson County educators chant at the Capitol on Tuesday, March 12 in protest of legislation in the 2019 General Assembly.

The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. John Bam Carney, R-Campbellsville, told the Herald-Leader Monday that it was unlikely the legislation would pass because he did not have enough votes in the House.

In response to Bevin’s remarks, KEA President Stephanie Winkler said educators across Kentucky were defending attacks on public education funding by appealing to their elected officials in person, calls, emails or texts.

“Educators are sick and tired of being brushed off and vilified by this governor who has repeatedly disregarded our input and importance to the future of our commonwealth,” she said. “Citizens from Pikeville to Paducah have stood behind our efforts because they understand that we are standing up for their children and our students. We applaud the funding of pensions. We hope the governor applauds the activism and passion that educators have for our public schools and our students.”

At least four Kentucky school districts were forced to close on March 7 as hundreds of teachers called out sick to protest proposed legislation at the state Capitol.

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