House Bills Spark Outrage Among Kentucky Public School Teachers


Molly Shannon

After the teacher protests for pension reforms last year teachers came back with shirts and sticks saying that they love their public school. Although this year's protests are over something different, this still applies to how teachers feel. "We first arrived and congregated in the rotunda with hundreds of fellow teachers chanting and cheering. It was very powerful. Many of the politicians who support teachers and public education made their way to us; they were greeted with cheers and applause. They then spoke directly to the crowd showing their appreciation and support for both our presence that day and what we do every day in the classroom. It felt good to be acknowledged," said Craven.

Molly Shannon, Junior Creative Editor

Protests sign teachers up for signing out.

Teachers across Kentucky have been fired up over the recent bills that impact the teacher pension board, give tax breaks to people who donate to private school scholarships and would give the superintendent more power in certain situations.

There have been three main bills that if passed will greatly affect the future of public school teachers. Over the past week, schools have been closed in several counties due to teachers protesting. After the bills weren’t passed last year, teachers believe this year was just another way to attack public education.

House Bill 525 would have great influence on the teacher pension board by changing the process and the requirements for the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System’s Board of Trustees. House Bill 205 would give tax breaks to people who donate to private school scholarships. Senate Bill 250 would give the superintendents of school counties more power over certain situations, such as hiring principles. Public school educators see this as a way to take away their voice in situations that could affect them.

I feel like the recent bills introduced would have a negative impact on public education.  Based on the experiences from last year, I felt it was necessary to voice our concerns. I was unsure if it would be effective, but I’d rather go and try to do something than just sit back and regret not trying.  I believe the elected officials needed to see and hear the public opinion. By making it well known, it is not possible for politicians to claim ignorance or claim that they were doing what the citizens they represent desired,” said English teacher Leo Craven.

Teachers across the state went to Frankfort on Thursday, March 8. to voice their thoughts on the bills to the representatives. Bullitt County superintendent, Jesse Bacon approved 40 teachers to go to the capital along with several other counties, thus causing many schools to close. English teacher, Kari Haney went on Thursday because she felt compelled to stand up for what’s right and while she was there she also felt a sensation of pride. “It was a sense of pride, seeing all these educators united for a common goal, it was great to see so much unity within everyone there,” said Haney.

Many of the teachers who went to Frankfort last year returned this year. Craven immediately believed that since the representatives didn’t get what they wanted with the bills introduced this year that they were trying a new method of attacking public education. Haney was angry at the lack of respect public education receives from powerful leaders in Kentucky.

“I did go to Frankfort last year and it was my first time going.  When I went last year, the majority of the schools in the state had closed and there was much more urgency.  There were thousands more and I was amazed at how many people from across the state made it. I was only able to get into the rotunda of the capital last year so basically the main entrance/open area.  Last year I was simply going to be present and show the utter disapproval of the Sewer Bill whereas this year I went with the intent to learn more about the process and watch the development of the bill to figure out where, when and how I can make an impact or have my voice heard,” said Craven.

Govenour, Matt Bevin tweeted the day before the mass protest that students should be in school, implying that teachers shouldn’t be protesting against a bill that impacts them and their future.