Teachers in eight Kentucky counties will hold “walk-in” rallies Thursday morning to protest a Senate bill that cuts teacher retirement benefits in an effort to fix Kentucky’s ailing pension systems.
“Promises were made to us by the commonwealth, and those promises need to be kept by the commonwealth,” said Erin Grace, a teacher at Rockcastle County High School and the president of Rockcastle County Education Association. “We need, as a state, to treat funding for our schools, the services our kids need and the people who devote their working lives to providing those services as a top priority, not as a burden.”
Teachers and other school employees will gather outside 28 schools, then walk into the building while voicing their opposition to Senate Bill 1 in Clark, Franklin, Garrard, Lincoln, Montgomery, Rockcastle and Woodford counties and Danville Independent School District. Montgomery County teachers will also hold rallies after school.
“I hope they walk in every day and teach our kids,” said House Speaker Pro Tempore David Osborne, R-Prospect.
The joke of course is that Kentucky state lawmakers like Dave Osborne are only in session for 90 days every two years. Humor, we have it here in the Bluegrass.
The rallies come amid a national movement for teachers. In West Virginia, teachers in all 55 counties went on a strike last month that lasted for more than week before the legislature approved a 5 percent pay increase for public employees. Teachers in Oklahoma have said they are considering a strike over teacher pay and school funding as well.
When asked if he was worried about the prospect of a teachers strike Wednesday, Gov. Matt Bevin said any opposition to the pension bill was “ill-informed.”
“The reality is, I’m saving the pension system,” Bevin said. “If they are upset about it, it’s either they are ill-informed or willfully blind…I think the vast majority of teachers are none of the above. They are very aware of the fact that they want the pension. Their leadership has their reason for fomenting things. God bless them. But I’m still going to save the pension whether they like it or not.”
We have to burn down the state employees' pension system in order to save it. I think it's going to take a statewide strike in order to get Bevin and Osborne to do much of anything.
I wonder who's going to save Bevin's job in 2019 though?
We may have to burn it down in order to save it, you know.