Just when Kentuckians thought that Governor Matt Bevin had gone far enough in his war on teachers, Kentuckians were treated to a public roundtable discussion on education that was neither public, at a roundtable, nor a discussion. To borrow from the words of Abraham Lincoln, “Teach the children so it will not be necessary to teach the adults.” Apparently, Lincoln’s words have fallen on deaf ears when it comes to those who have chosen to demonize Kentucky’s teachers and educators.
Unfortunately, Gov. Bevin and his handful of carefully picked puppets are more concerned at forcing charter schools on Kentuckians than fixing what is broken. Instead of meeting with teachers, educators, and others who have dedicated their lives to educate the next generation of Kentucky’s children, these hand-picked puppets have joined Gov. Bevin and his war on teachers. How sad, no, not just sad, but rather how pathetic.
This so-called public event once again exposed Gov. Bevin’s disdain for public education in favor of charter schools, schools which would only be available to the lucky few of Kentucky’s students, students who might be fortunate enough to win the charter school lottery. In the words of Gov. Bevin,
“Every single person who sat around this table cares about the children, not about funding, not about territory, not about power, not about politics. They care about parents. They care about students. It was a broad representation of people who care about those things.”
One could only have hoped that those in attendance cared about parents and students, however, any suggestion that those carefully handpicked to sit at the table with Gov. Bevin and Education Secretary Devos were not about power, politics or funding is pure nonsense. If that were the case, then Gov. Bevin would have invited teachers, educators, students, parents and teachers from a site-based council, state representatives, and yes, even someone from the Kentucky Education Association to attend. But as we all know, that did not happen and never will happen as long as Gov. Bevin’s administration and his hand-picked puppets continue to wage an unrelentless war on Kentucky’s teachers, and Kentucky’s public schools. The truth of the matter is that Gov. Bevin doesn’t want a constructive debate, he wants to continue to demonize Kentucky’s teachers and educators to boost his fragile ego.
What Gov. Bevin really wants is for all Kentuckians to stand along an imaginary parade route and applaud him as he continues his attack on teachers. Gov. Bevin is like the emperor in that famous children’s classic written by Hans Christian Anderson, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” One can easily imagine Gov. Bevin sitting at his desk at the capitol as he listens to those who surround him, including the weavers at the Kentucky Department of Education, as they convince him that his plan for charter schools is like the emperor’s new suit, a plan which is invisible like the emperor’s new suit, a plan which doesn’t exist.
If you listen carefully, and to borrow from the words of the Hans Christian Anderson’s story, you can almost hear the daily exchange between Gov. Bevin and those who surround him which goes something like the following,
Prime Minister: The people are clamoring for you, Your Majesty. The Emperor: They’re not clamoring very loud. Prime Minister: But they’re our best clamorers. The Emperor: Tell them I want more clamoring. I want more clamor!
Although much more could be said about the future of public education in Kentucky, that discussion will have to await another day, a day when Kentucky has a leader who really does care about Kentucky’s children, not someone who has spent the past years, months, weeks, and days demonizing Kentucky’s educators and teachers who are the greatest resource for the future of the education of Kentucky’s children.
So, as I often do, I would invite all of Kentucky’s teachers, educators, students, parents and teachers from a site-based council, state representatives, and yes, unlike Gov. Bevin, even representatives from the Kentucky Education Association to join me on my imaginary mountaintop, a place where all stakeholders in the future of the education of Kentucky’s children can shout loudly that it is time to end the war on public education; it is time to end the war on Kentucky’s teachers; it is time support Kentucky’s public schools, not destroy them.
Oh, and by the way, maybe, just maybe, Gov. Bevin and Education Secretary Devos should take a moment to publicly apologize to student journalists Olivia Doyle and Abigail Wheatley who attempted to cover this so-called public roundtable discussion on education but were locked of the event because they did not RSVP the invitation they never received.
Mark Wohlander, a former FBI agent and federal prosecutor, and an advocate for public education, practices law in Lexington, Kentucky and throughout the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. Other of Mark’s columns and Liberty prints are available at www.fivesmoothstonesky.com.