BEVIN'S WAR ON TEACHERS
By MARK WOHLANDER
Posted Sunday, March 17, 2019
To paraphrase the words of Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician, “desperate times call for desperate measures.” Those simple words best describe the waning days of the war Governor Bevin has waged on public school teachers and public education, a war which has been fought in a quest to impose his vision of the future of education, a vision which has been dictated to him by his benefactors, the Koch brothers
Fortunately, unlike Gov. Bevin, most Kentuckians understand that teachers are not evil. Instead, most Kentuckians, including hundreds of thousands of Kentucky students, embrace Kentucky’s teachers. In the words of Carl Jung, “[o]ne looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feeling. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.”
What is abundantly clear to most Kentuckians is that Bevin’s desperation and decision to vilify teachers is both an understanding, and a realization, that if he loses the primary, his campaign to redefine education, and to literally starve public education of the funds necessary to teach our children, will end abruptly.
What Bevin also understands is that his defeat at the polls will be a resounding rejection of his battle plan to steal taxpayer education dollars to both fund charter schools and provide tax breaks for those corporate fat-cats responsible for the war against public education, a war which is being waged across America.
So why target public school teachers? Why not work with teachers? Why not - the answer to that rhetorical question is simple: because teachers are easy targets. From Bevin’s myopic perspective of the world, targeting public school teachers, instead of working with them, has allowed him to find a scapegoat to blame for Kentucky’s pension crisis. Better yet, in Bevin’s myopic perspective of the world, scapegoating teachers has allowed him to push forward his plan to change, no not change, rather, destroy, public education.
For many, when Bevin came into office, there was some hope that he would be the governor he portrayed himself as during the campaign, a governor who would end, or at least, work on healing the political divide which has come to characterize politics in Frankfort. However, once he took off the costume which he disguised himself in during the general election, it was soon evident that he was nothing more than a bitter politician intent on imposing his view of the world on Kentuckians, a view which is void of the reality of the times in which we live.
Take just a moment to consider one of Bevin’s most vicious attacks on public school teachers when he said,
I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them. I guarantee you somewhere today, a child was physically harmed or ingested poison because they were home alone because a single parent didn't have any money to take care of them … [and] some were introduced to drugs for the first time because they were vulnerable and left alone.
Take just a moment to ask yourself if a person who would make those types of statements about teachers is worthy of being the governor of Kentucky. Has this man forgotten that teachers are not only teachers, they are also mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, children and friends of those who understand better than Bevin that teachers do not teach because they are greedy or selfish or any of the other hate-filled labels Bevin has espoused, instead teachers teach because they care about the future of Kentucky’s children.
Unfortunately, instead of healing the divide in Frankfort, Bevin has spent his time in office waging a war of division, a war with a take no prisoners mentality, a war which Kentuckians can only hope and pray will end in the next few weeks. To this day, Bevin apparently does not understand that his rise to power was fueled by nothing more than a meager 83 vote win in the 2015 Republican primary. Sadly, Bevin has squandered his political capital feeding his oversized ego on a belief that he is not the governor of Kentucky, but rather, the emperor of Kentucky. Fortunately, and hopefully, for Kentuckians, it appears that the clock is running out on the imperial reign of emperor Bevin’s time in office.
In the end, one is left to ask the rhetorical question of whether Dr. Wayne Lewis’ eleventh hour attempt to intimidate and silence Kentucky teachers in the final days of the primary battle was actually conceived in the Office of the Commissioner of Education? The answer is simple, of course not. To even the most naïve observer, this poorly written script designed to vilify teachers and redefine and starve public education of the money necessary to teach hundreds of thousands of Kentucky’s children was undoubtedly written in a final act of desperation by a man who could not check his ego at the door to the governor’s office. Fortunately for Kentucky’s children and public school teachers, the script to destroy public education was so poorly written that it has failed just like a poorly written play, a play which deserves to suffer the fate of the curtain coming down for the first and last time on its first night in an off-Broadway theater.
So, as I often do, I would invite each of you to join me on my imaginary mountaintop, a place where all Kentuckians can shout a loud thank you to Kentucky’s public-school teachers; a place where all Kentuckians can shout loudly to Gov. Bevin, enough is enough; it is time for a change; it is time for new leadership; it is time for a governor, not an emperor.
Oh and, by the way, the only way Kentuckians can end the politics of division in Frankfort is to vote, not only in the primary election this May, but also, in the general election this November.
Mark Wohlander, a former FBI agent, federal prosecutor, and an advocate for public education, practices law in Lexington, Kentucky. Other of Mark’s columns and Liberty prints are available at www.fivesmoothstonesky.com.