Kentucky teachers rally in 'day of action' at state Capitol

Inspired by her special needs students, Leslie Busch joined her fellow teachers Friday at the state Capitol in Frankf...

Posted: Apr 14, 2018 5:25 PM
Updated: Apr 14, 2018 5:25 PM

Inspired by her special needs students, Leslie Busch joined her fellow teachers Friday at the state Capitol in Frankfort in what the Kentucky Education Association called "a day of action."

If public education doesn't get additional funding, Busch said, more families will turn to charter and private schools, some of which won't accept students with special needs or will make them pay more to attend.

"That's unfair," Busch told CNN. "I am adamant about giving my students a fair chance to be a working member of society when they grow up."

Dozens of public school districts throughout Kentucky canceled Friday's classes to allow teachers and school personnel to be present at the Capitol rally, according to CNN affiliate WLKY.

The Kentucky Education Association strongly opposes a pension reform bill that Gov. Matt Bevin signed this week under which new hires will have to enter a hybrid cash-balance plan, as opposed to a traditional pension. It also limits new sick days teachers can put toward their retirement.

Members of the teachers union also were critical of Bevin's vetoes of budget and revenue bills, both of which the union said are crucial to funding public education.

On Friday night, legislators in the Republican-controlled Senate voted to override the vetoes.

"We acknowledge neither bill gives the citizens of the Commonwealth everything that our students, their parents, and our communities need." the Kentucky Education Association said on Facebook. "However, both bills provide much needed P-12 funding for the next biennium."

The governor, a Republican, tweeted his disapproval.

"We have time to do this correctly. The people of Kentucky deserve nothing less. Transparency makes for good policy AND good politics," he wrote. "I have met with House and Senate leaders all week to propose more responsible ways to pay for 100% of the requested education funding. Crickets."

The governor bemoaned the teacher protest, telling a group of reporters outside the Capitol that school closures left some children unprotected.

"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," the governor said, according to CNN affiliate WDRB. "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. I'm offended by the idea that people so cavalierly and so flippantly disregarded what's truly best for children."

He also claimed that some children were "introduced to drugs."

Some teachers in Oklahoma want to keep fighting

Teachers in other states are also pushing for better pay and conditions, inspired in part by a successful strike last month in West Virginia.

In Oklahoma, the largest teachers union ended a nine-day walkout Thursday, but educators there vow to continue fighting.

Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest said it was time for students to go back to school. Priest claimed the teachers had secured a "victory" with $479 million in additional school funding.

But the union ended the walkout with about the same amount of spending teachers were promised before it began. Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill shortly before the start of the walkout that raised spending on teacher and support staff pay by $405.5 million -- netting teachers and staff a $6,100 raise and a $1,250 raise, respectively. But the Oklahoma Education Association wanted teachers' raises to be $10,000 on average.

Another piece of legislation also raised education funding, providing more than $70 million over the next fiscal year for textbooks, state aid and flex health care benefits. The union also wanted those numbers to be higher.

Priest said the union had polled members throughout the walkout, and that by Thursday, 70% of respondents indicated they were unsure of continuing.

But some teachers said they were not surveyed before the walkout was called off.

"The OEA doesn't get to decide when I'm finished," said middle school choir teacher Renee Jerden. "I feel like it's a cop-out -- we have let them win by showing them they can behave however they want, and we'll eventually get tired and go home."

Arizona teachers offered 20% raise

In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey's announcement Thursday of a plan to give teachers 20% pay raises by 2020 was met with some skepticism.

The Arizona Educators United coalition had called for 20% pay raises, but it wasn't satisfied after Ducey's announcement.

"This has made more questions for us than answers," said Noah Karvelis, a teacher and an Arizona Educators United organizer. "We don't know the details. We don't know the funding sources."

Under Ducey's proposal, teachers' pay would increase 9% in the 2018 school year, then another 5% for the next two years, boosting the average salary to $58,130 from the current $48,372 by 2020.

Teachers in the state held "walk-ins" Wednesday before the start of classes, calling for higher salaries. They gathered outside schools, wearing red shirts and carrying signs before walking in to teach their first classes of the day.

The rallies were just the latest escalation in recent weeks for educators and their allies to voice their frustration. The group started by encouraging teachers to wear red to school on Wednesdays, using the hashtag #RedforED in social media posts.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 61125

Reported Deaths: 1711
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5209106
DeSoto328027
Madison228154
Rankin212428
Harrison209832
Jackson192934
Jones176557
Forrest163153
Washington148032
Lauderdale132388
Lee123230
Neshoba119487
Lamar111512
Oktibbeha105235
Lowndes97332
Warren96426
Scott95317
Bolivar93932
Copiah90924
Panola90711
Sunflower90622
Lafayette8699
Holmes84347
Leflore83259
Pike82632
Grenada81220
Yazoo77311
Leake76725
Lincoln74339
Wayne73221
Pontotoc7247
Simpson71126
Monroe69750
Coahoma65910
Tate64523
Marion59918
Adams58025
Covington57811
Winston57115
Marshall5668
George5415
Union51913
Newton51611
Attala49524
Tallahatchie49310
Pearl River48236
Walthall44218
Chickasaw43519
Noxubee41710
Claiborne40013
Smith37713
Jasper3758
Calhoun3748
Clay36814
Alcorn3544
Prentiss3376
Hancock32614
Tishomingo3163
Yalobusha31610
Lawrence3135
Itawamba30710
Tippah30412
Clarke29825
Montgomery2913
Humphreys26911
Tunica2656
Carroll24511
Greene22611
Kemper22315
Perry2217
Quitman2211
Amite2105
Jefferson Davis1986
Webster19712
Jefferson1916
Wilkinson18712
Sharkey1801
Stone1483
Choctaw1264
Benton1240
Franklin1142
Issaquena211
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 89927

Reported Deaths: 1580
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson11650225
Mobile8998191
Montgomery6198143
Madison493225
Tuscaloosa391263
Baldwin317522
Shelby300232
Marshall294730
Unassigned263351
Lee249140
Morgan220615
Etowah191425
DeKalb167713
Elmore158437
Calhoun15359
Walker145763
Houston130912
Dallas128023
Russell12201
Franklin118420
Limestone118313
St. Clair118212
Cullman111311
Colbert107612
Lauderdale105312
Autauga101020
Escambia96515
Talladega89013
Jackson8163
Chambers81438
Tallapoosa80478
Dale77619
Butler75135
Blount7223
Covington70420
Coffee7035
Chilton6976
Pike6547
Barbour5625
Lowndes54624
Marion53524
Marengo51514
Clarke4849
Hale44925
Bullock43711
Perry4284
Winston42811
Wilcox4029
Monroe3884
Randolph38810
Conecuh37110
Bibb3643
Pickens3639
Sumter36118
Washington31011
Macon30813
Lawrence3060
Crenshaw2843
Choctaw27312
Henry2433
Greene24011
Cherokee2337
Geneva2260
Clay2165
Lamar1942
Fayette1695
Cleburne1141
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