Hundreds sign online petition demanding Gov. Bevin apologize to teachers for comments during pro-charter school testimony to the General Assembly

KSBA eNews Service, Frankfort, March 20, 2017

Retired Kenton Co. teacher, Wolfe Co. DPP take governor to task for criticizing motives of “those who have failed to deliver in schools”

By Brad Hughes

More than 600 people have signed an online petition calling on Gov. Matt Bevin to apologize for saying opponents of charter school legislation were lying and questioning their motives during testimony earlier this month before the House Education Committee.

Dottie Miller, a retired Kenton County teacher and former president of the Kenton County chapter of the Kentucky Education Association, created the petition using the Change.org website. As of noon today, the petition has collected 657 signatures.

“The teachers and the retired teachers of Kentucky demand an apology for your tirade against us, our professional organizations and legislators who stood up for public education,” Miller said in describing the petition. “Calling us liars and making unfounded accusations about our motives while testifying to the House Education Committee is beyond the limits of civility.”

The petition may be seen here

During a March 3 House Education Committee hearing on House Bill 520 – the charter school enabling legislation that passed both houses of the General Assembly last week – Bevin blasted opponents of the bill – without ever using the word “teachers.”

“The argument that this is somehow a threat to our public education system is a lie. It is not correct. It is a scare tactic. It is meant to preserve the status quo,” the governor said.

“I’m personally disgusted by the fact that the people who oppose this so adamantly continue at every turn – in between texting – to be passionate about what? About power. About money. About the transfer of dollars. It’s not about the students to any of those who are opposing this bill. This is not a threat to anything except failure. It is a threat to those who have failed to deliver in certain school districts and in certain schools in particular. Those who think that they are beholden to the very unions that are trying to desperately to maintain power and are answering to those people who are trying to curry favor, that is not what this is about,” Bevin said.

Miller’s petition came to the attention of eNews Sunday while examining dozens of comments in response to a letter to the editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader from Wolfe County Schools Director of Pupil Personnel Ernie Whisman.

In the letter, titled “Bevin insulted teachers,” Whisman also takes issue with Bevin’s characterization of educators for their opposition to House Bill 520, which awaits the governor’s signature.

“Gov. Matt Bevin, a fanatical proponent of charter schools in any form, responded angrily to educators across the state who opposed House Bill 520. He accused them of being opposed because their focus is on money, not their students,” Whisman said. “How incredibly insulting.”

“Perhaps Bevin is unaware that countless educators across the state routinely spend their own dollars to feed hungry students at school events, pay for school supplies or buy Christmas presents for needy children. Judging by his comments, it seems unlikely that Bevin knows that countless educators serve as community volunteers, often spending their own dollars to buy sports equipment, tickets for trips or pizzas for a group dinner. It is just as unlikely that he is aware that educators spend countless hours after school working at basketball games, chaperoning dances or volunteering for youth league sports,” he said.

“I worked in public education for more than 22 years and have witnessed more acts of making kids’ lives better with no expectation of return or reward by teachers, staff and administrators than I could list. Bevin’s remarks are not only rude and offensive but also totally out of touch with reality. I am not sure which is worse,” Whisman concluded.

As of Monday afternoon, Whisman’s letter was among the top trending articles on the Herald-Leader website, with approximately 90 almost exclusively supportive comments posted in reaction.

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