Kentucky gov. apologizes for comments linking teacher protests to child abuse

16 April, 2018, 03:34 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Kentucky gov. apologizes for comments linking teacher protests to child abuse

Some educators on social media said they would wear black on Monday as a show of solidarity against what they viewed as Gov. Matt Bevin's negative comments about teachers.

Bevin had come under scrutiny after he told a reporter children left at home could be susceptible to sexual assault or even be poisoned.

Robin Cooper, an occupational therapist in Fayette County, the state's second-largest public school district, was among the thousands of educators protesting at the Capitol in recent weeks.

Teachers from across Kentucky gathered in the state Capitol to rally for increased funding for education on Friday.

That same day, Bevin blasted the teachers for taking the day off to protest.

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"It's entirely inappropriate and perverse that the man sitting in the governorship would criticize Kentuckians who stood up today for teachers, public employees and our public education by insinuating that their presence in Frankfort today caused a child to be sexually assaulted", Kentucky Democratic Executive Director Mary Nishimuta said.

A spokesman for the Kentucky Education Association declined to comment. "As a mother, suggesting children were abused as a prop for his political rhetoric is disturbing and absurdly in poor taste". Crosby Stills, Nash and Young's hit "Teach Your Children" bellowed from the loud speakers. "I want to be in my classroom instructing future citizens, but I'm afraid that spending at the state level is getting worse and worse, and we need those dollars for a 21st-century education", said Stephanie Ikanovic, a teacher of 21 years who participated in the demonstrations, the Associated Press reported.

Bevin, who would see his veto of an education-boosting state budget overridden by state lawmakers, characterized the attitudes of protesting teachers as cavalier and flippant about student safety. He said they would not raise enough money to cover the new spending. But 57 Republicans eagerly voted to override, asserting their independence after a tumultuous year marred by a sexual harassment scandal. However, officials from both Erlanger-Elsemere and Bellevue said Bevin's proposed education cuts - not the one-day absence of teachers - would "severely reduce" services that provide forms of childcare before and after school, including kindergarten, preschool and tutoring. "We have to have this revenue to fund our schools". He vowed to call a special session "to pass a transparent and properly balanced budget" in a separate tweet.

Bevin followed the debate closely, responding to lawmakers' speeches with tweets. "That's my responsibility, it truly is", he said.

The unrest comes amid teacher protests in Oklahoma and Arizona over low funding and teacher pay. West Virginia teachers walked out for nine days, forcing a 5 percent pay increase in March.

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