Education

Teachers fire back after Bevin says they didn’t stop work during ‘vacation time.’

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.

Gov. Matt Bevin criticized Kentucky teachers once again in a radio interview Tuesday saying that teachers did not protest this summer when school was out and they were not getting paid.

“This same bill came forward again this summer when nobody was in school and nobody showed up,” Bevin said on the Brian Thomas Morning Show on 55 KRC in Cincinnati. “When it’s vacation time, people are a little less worked up ... people seem to most enjoy doing this, stopping work, when they get paid anyway. But when they are not getting paid to stop work, it is remarkable nobody seems to be that interested, they don’t care quite as much.”

The bill Bevin signed into law this summer did not affect public school teachers directly and was instead a plan to deal with a huge increase in pension costs for regional universities and quasi-governmental agencies, such as health departments and rape crisis centers.

Educators in the state shot back at Bevin Tuesday.

“Based on his comments, we can only assume that Governor Bevin didn’t understand the pension legislation he and his staff wrote and dictated in detail to the General Assembly during the recent Special Session,” Kentucky Education Association officials said in a statement.

“Anyone who is familiar with that legislation knows that it was not the same bill educators protested a few months ago. Educators protest to influence governmental action that affects public schools and public school students, not to get out of work that they love and believe in. For the Governor to suggest otherwise is, unfortunately, typical,” KEA officials said.

Nema Brewer of Lexington, a co-founder of the educator advocacy group KY 120 United, said Bevin “can’t stop running his mouth and can’t stop poking a stick in our eye.”

She said her group worked behind the scenes for people who were affected by the bill.

“I think he doesn’t know what he is talking about as usual,” said Brewer. “He has absolutely no clue what our teachers did or did not do for this bill.”

“...We don’t enjoy stopping work. We don’t have a choice. ...Our voice is not heard and there is no other way to get his attention besides showing up in Frankfort,” said Brewer. “We will continue to fight back. We will continue to show up.”

“We’re enraged every day. We are working every day,” she said.

Last week, an investigation by Bevin’s administration showed 1,074 teachers violated Kentucky law when they participated in a “sick out” during this year’s legislative session over concerns about their pension benefits.

Schools in Jefferson County closed for several days in March when teachers called in sick.

Schools in Fayette, Madison, Bath, Marion, Carter, Boyd and Letcher counties also closed for a day because of expected teacher absences, and schools in Bullitt and Oldham counties closed because of teachers calling in sick.

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