Teachers protest in Frankfort; override of vetos approved

Christy Howell-Hoots - [email protected]
Mason County teachers Heather Strode, Dominique Pleasant-Moore and Lauren Bihl speak during a protest in Frankfort on Friday. -
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FRANKFORT — Several local educators joined thousands from across the state on Friday to call for an override of Gov. Matt Bevin’s veto on the Kentucky budget and revenue bills.

The budget would increase revenue for education, including an increase in SEEK.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, however, vetoed the bill on Monday. In his speech, he said the budget was not properly balanced. He also said the budget would put the burden of paying for the retirement system on people who “are not in the system.” He also said the pension bill, House Bill 151, which was signed, was a start to the growing pension problems in the state, but did not solve the problem.

“The pension bill that was passed does not solve the problem. It does not come close to solving the problem,” he said. “It will only raise $300 million over 20 years if we have a $60 billion problem. That’s one half of one percent, which means 99.5 percent of the problem is going to be paid for and solved by people who are not in the system. So, the job creators and taxpayers in Kentucky, who do not get a pension, is going to be paid for by those people, who will get nothing from it. Have we really solved the problem? No, we just pushed it down the road.”

From over a half mile away, educators could be heard chanting “fund public education,” “vote them out” and “let us in.”

Among those teachers were over two dozen from Mason County. Straub Elementary Teacher Cynthia Reynolds said they left Maysville around 7:30 a.m. on a bus that was paid for through donations, in order to allow teachers to voice their opinions.

Reynolds, and several of the teachers, were crowded together for over two hours on the steps of the capital, waiting their turn to get inside the building. First, however, some of the teachers chose to stop and speak at a microphone provided for the teachers.

Lauren Bihl, a fifth grade MCIS teacher, Heather Strode, a second grade Straub Elementary teacher and Dominique Pleasant-Moore, an MCIS teacher gathered around the microphone to call for the opening of the capital doors.

“Let us in,” they shouted. “Open the doors, storm the capital.”

Once leaving the microphone, the teachers continued through the crowd to be closer to the front door. It took two hours to get from the bottom of the stairs to the front door, according to Reynolds.

“Our experience today was empowering,” Reynolds said, once inside the building. “Educators from across the state stood united to fight for our students. Our hope was that legislators would begin to make decisions that would support public schools. We need our community to be education voters in November.”

Bihl said one of her goals was to get legislators to defund Charter Schools.

“Charter Schools will not fund every student,” she said. “Students with behavior problems or special needs will be enrolled and as soon as they become a problem, they will be thrown out and the funding from them will stay with the charter school and the students will be sent back to an underfunded public school. We should have equal opportunities for our students.”

While many teachers made it inside the building, hundreds also remained outside.

At the base of the capital steps, teachers, wearing red t-shirts, stood holding signs while a band played music nearby. Some of the signs said, “We love public education” and “fund our schools.” Other teachers had homemade signs, such as one that said, “Dumbledore would never have let this happen.”

The sign was made by a high school teacher in Harlan County named Rebecca Wynn/

“My teacher friend helped me make it,” she said. “We’re just book nerds who fell in love with reading through school and thought it would make a statement.”

Morgan Hurley, a Harlan County elementary school teacher with Wynn said she was hoping to make a statement to legislators about the revenue bill and budget.

“I’m only a third year teacher and this really affects me,” she said. “My dad is a firefighter, so I’m also fighting for him. My daughter is six years old and if she wants to be a teacher, then this is also for her.”

By 5:30 p.m. Friday, the Kentucky and House approved overrides on the veto of the bills.

Mason County teachers Heather Strode, Dominique Pleasant-Moore and Lauren Bihl speak during a protest in Frankfort on Friday.
https://maysville-online.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/web1_IMG_5369-2.jpgMason County teachers Heather Strode, Dominique Pleasant-Moore and Lauren Bihl speak during a protest in Frankfort on Friday.

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Christy Howell-Hoots

[email protected]