By Brenna R. Kelly
At its Summer Leadership Institute, KSBA invited both tickets in this fall’s gubernatorial race to address attendees for 15 minutes. (Read the Beshear-Coleman story)
School board members have to make tough decisions that likely lead to hearing some grief from their communities, Sen. Ralph Alvarado told the school board members.
“I think it’s very safe for me to say that Gov. Bevin understands exactly how you feel,” said Alvarado, who is running for lieutenant governor with incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.
Alvarado planned to represent the ticket at the conference. However, with about six minutes of his time remaining, Bevin took the stage, explaining that he had been out of state at a funeral.
The funeral, he said, reminded him that time is precious and thanked school board members for devoting some of theirs to their communities and the state’s children.
Bevin told the members that all students in Kentucky should have the same opportunities and that each student is different. Because of different needs, he’s sent his own children to public schools, private schools and kept them at home for school.
“What you wrestle with in your communities, I have wrestled with microcosmically within my own family,” he said.
Bevin said he wants every student in Kentucky to have the same opportunities as every other student in the state.
“They are all different. They come from different socioeconomic backgrounds and another background. But the reality is this, they all deserve a shot,” he said. “That’s all I’m looking for.”
Bevin also recounted how his grandmother, the daughter of immigrants, became a teacher. Two of his siblings also have education degrees, he said.
“If you’ve been led to believe that I don’t understand public education, that I don’t know public educators, that I don’t care about this, then you have been misled,” he said. “I care about this intensely. The reason I’m taking on the challenges as it relates to pensions and any number of other things is simply to make sure that we provide for the people that every day you go to work for when you are wearing these hats.”
Before Bevin’s arrival, Alvarado touted his party’s record on education including Senate Bill 1 (2019), the school safety bill; Senate Bill 1 (2017) which gave boards more authority over school turnaround; and teacher tribunal reform. Alvarado also lauded the passage of House Bill 11, the tobacco-free schools bill.
“The bill does contain a provision allowing school boards to opt out. I would encourage all of you not to do that,” he said.
Alvarado said he looked forward to continuing to partner with Bevin on education issues for the next four years.
“Things like ensuring the pension promises are fulfilled for our teachers and other public employees, continuing our record-setting economic growth, which improves tax revenues, thus education funding as well,” he said.
Alvarado also addressed his running mate’s relationship with the public education community saying that the administration has strengthened high school graduation requirements, funded dual credit scholarships and modernized workforce training facilities.
“It’s so unfortunate to me that the relationship that Gov. Bevin and the Bevin administration has had with all of you has been marred by miscommunication often and misunderstanding,” he said. “There really is no reason for us to be anything other than the strongest of allies.”
In asking for school board members’ votes, Bevin said party doesn’t matter in the election, that it’s a choice between two people.
“I’m asking you to vote your values, vote your instinct, vote your common sense, vote your heart rather than your party,” he said.
Bevin said he’s grateful to be governor but that it’s not a fun job. Though many of the things he is trying to do are not popular, they need to be done, he said.
“I’d be honored to continue to fight for every single kid, every kid in Kentucky for the next four years,” he said. g