Sadly, these past weeks, Kentuckians have been exposed to another barrage of attacks on Kentucky’s public-school teachers. Only this time, those attacks have come not only from Governor Bevin, those attacks have also been echoed by Education Secretary Wayne Lewis and Labor Secretary David Dickerson. What should trouble all Kentuckians is that the attacks do not contribute anything to the education of our children, nor do the attacks contribute to the recruitment of the next generation of teachers, nor do the attacks contribute to the future of school children, nor for that matter to the future of Kentucky.
Close your eyes and imagine for a moment that you are a teacher today and when you arrive in your classroom you have a classroom full of students who now view you as a being a selfish, lazy thug, and yes, even a criminal for having had the courage to engage in constitutionally protected speech. The rhetorical question which necessarily needs to be asked is whether this is the image we want to portray of our teachers? Simply stated, the answer should be a resounding NO!
Now, fast forward a few months, close your eyes and imagine for a moment that you are a teacher under new leadership in Frankfort with a governor who promotes and supports our teachers and children; a lieutenant governor who has been a classroom teacher for more than a decade; a new education commissioner who not only promotes education, but an education commissioner who is actually certified to teach in Kentucky’s classrooms; and finally, a new education board with members who have a background in education, not simply board members who have been hand-picked because of their willingness to rubber stamp an agenda designed to move from public schools to charter schools.
Now that you have imagined a classroom under the current administration and a classroom under a new administration, the rhetorical question which Kentuckians should ask themselves is which classroom would they prefer for Kentucky’s children, which classroom would most teachers prefer, and for that matter which classroom would Kentucky’s school children prefer, a classroom under an administration with leaders who support public education, or a classroom under an administration which bends over backwards to harm the future of Kentucky’s public schools, and the future of Kentucky’s children.
For anyone who might doubt which ticket will best support Kentucky’s public-school children, Kentucky’s public-school teachers and the future of Kentucky’s public schools, take a moment to consider just a few words of Governor Bevin, words which he has used to characterize Kentucky public school teachers when he has described public school teachers as being selfish, ignorant, teachers with a thug mentality and nothing more than “angry people who want to destroy what’s good for this state.”
Now, contrast Governor Bevin’s words with those of Jacqueline Coleman, the other ticket’s choice for lieutenant governor, a woman of character, a public school teacher, and someone who has been in a classroom as a teacher, someone who has pledged that as lieutenant governor, “[she] plans to focus on creating a world-class public education system here in Kentucky to help produce the future leaders of our Commonwealth, and the many challenges facing rural Kentucky.”
So, the question which all Kentuckians need to ask is exactly who they can trust with the education of their children, their grandchildren, and each and every child attending Kentucky’s public schools. Should Kentuckians trust today’s administration of critics, or possibly tomorrow’s administration of leaders who care about the education of Kentucky’s children, children who are the future of Kentucky.
So, as I often do, I would invite all Kentuckians who want a public education system which is second to none, and a public education system which supports our teachers and our children, to join me on my imaginary mountaintop, a place where all Kentuckians, all public school students and all public school teachers can shout loudly to anyone who will listen that it is time to support public education in Kentucky, and it is time to end the attacks on public education, attacks which will only destroy public education in Kentucky and the future of Kentucky’s children.