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 Bevin-Alvarado story)
Jacqueline Coleman is often asked how she went from being a public school teacher and administrator to Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.
But being a teacher and being lieutenant governor aren’t all that different, Coleman said as she addressed school board members on behalf of her running mate Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear.
“We are looking the same challenges in the eye, it’s just a different perspective,” she said.
Coleman is an assistant principal at Nelson County High School and is pursuing her doctorate in educational leadership. She’s also worked as a high school civics teacher and a basketball coach.
“I’m running for Lt. Gov. because I don’t believe public education will survive another four years of Matt Bevin,” she said.
After thanking board members for their service, Coleman rattled off a list of ways she says Gov. Matt Bevin has denigrated teachers and public education, including championing the charter school law, calling teachers thugs and equating them to drowning victims who need to be rescued.
“He did all of this while slashing professional development funds that let teachers stay on top of their game, instructional resource funds that would have provided textbooks, technology for students in our classrooms and transportation funding that helps our most vulnerable students get to school in the morning and our best student-athletes to compete,” she said.
In addition to education, Coleman pointed out Beshear’s belief that everyone should have access to affordable healthcare, his fight to stem the opioid epidemic sweeping the state and his plans to bring more good-paying jobs to the state.
As a teacher and school administrator, Coleman said her school is a microcosm of those problems. In one classroom, a student who has no needs could be sitting next to a student who can’t remember the last time he had a hot meal, she said.
In her school, Coleman said she’s also seen the effects of Bevin’s education policies. School board members, better than anyone, understand the importance of fully funding education, she said.
“But this is what it means to me, when I am sitting in an administrative team meeting, and I learn that we have to cut 10 adults from our building and the same number of kids are walking in our doors next school year,” she said. “That’s an academic issue, that’s a supervision issue, that’s a safety issue.”
Coleman said she believes the state is at a crossroads in the next election. Bevin’s ticket has “doubled down on destruction of public education,” she said.
In contrast, Coleman said Beshear will be a champion for public education reminding board members that Beshear successfully fought Bevin’s pension bill which led to the state Supreme Court declaring the bill unconstitutional.
“Andy knows that you don’t hide solutions in a sewer bill and that charter schools are for CEOs, not our students,” she said.
Choosing a teacher as a running mate is another sign of Beshear’s commitment to public education, she said.
“I will be the first educator to serve at this level since Martha Layne Collins, and isn’t it time for public education to have a seat at the table again?” she said.
Coleman also told the members that she and Beshear are a team, referencing the public falling out between Bevin and current Lt. Gov. Jeanne Hampton.
“Our team is committed to making public education a top priority in Kentucky,” she said.
Coleman asked school board members to cast their votes for her ticket this November.
“This race isn’t about Republican versus Democrat, it’s not about right versus left, this is very simply a race about right versus wrong,” she said. “And Matt Bevin is wrong for Kentucky.
“I can’t think of a better team to take on the governor than the guy he can’t beat and a public school teacher,” she said.