2020 and Beyond

What to expect, reject, & defend

As stated prior, we are just getting started. Kentucky’s educators won a significant battle, helping to defeat Matt Bevin, but now, we must continue our fight by supporting, rallying around, and promoting Andy Beshear’s plan for Kentucky.

Despite Matt Bevin’s defeat, educators will battle members of this chamber in 2020.

Bottom line, improved public education, higher wages, affordable college, providing free or affordable technical and trade school programs, are a pathway to the middle class. Economic opportunity is a universal cure to nearly all of societies’ ills. 

A legislative session is approaching, and despite having an ally in the governor’s mansion, we are drastically out-numbered in the House and Senate. Educators will need to prioritize their mission, and publicly state what they are willing to accept, what they will reject, and what non-education issues they wish to defend.

Educators must also recognize the enemy. Matt Bevin was defeated because he was so universally disliked. However, many educators, for various reasons, still support the party that clearly wants to destroy public education in Kentucky. Let’s be honest, there aren’t many Republican allies in the House or Senate. That being said, little will be accomplished this coming session unless legislators, educators, and Beshear are willing to come across the aisle and compromise.

What can we expect:

The picture isn’t as clear as it was prior to Bevin’s defeat, but educators can most likely expect pension reform, tax credits, and charter school funding to be on the table during this session, which is a 60-day session and a budget year.

We must reject:

Pension reform is off the table. Any bill that decreases current or future retiree benefits, must be rejected. Any bill that cuts health benefits to future or current retirees is unacceptable. Any bill that moves future teachers into an inferior retirement should be burned upon arrival.

It’s a hard no to tax credits or vouchers. Tax credits for tuition benefit those who can afford to send their children to private school and cut revenue. Vouchers funnel public tax dollars to private schools, including religiously affiliated schools, and violate our state’s Constitution. There is overwhelming evidence proving the failure of voucher programs. Just check to see how they are not working in Indiana.

Why repeat the mistakes of 48 previous states. Charter schools are a mitigated disaster. One doesn’t have to travel far to see their failure. The corruption in Ohio is rampant and closures in Nashville are leaving families scrambling to find schools. There is no need to allow charter schools to operate under different rules, to syphon tax dollars away from public education, to deny special needs children and English language learners admittance, and to exit low-performing students when the research shows charter schools perform about the same or worse than their traditional public school counterparts, despite sizable advantages.

We must reject public education cuts. While some claim education is being funded at its highest levels, the truth is, when adjusted for inflation, education is currently funded 14% less than in 2008.

The last item to reject is corporate and wealthy tax cuts. We must fight to ensure corporations and the rich pay a fair share, and a flat tax or a consumption-based tax system is not fair. I have no issues with corporate tax cuts, if they create good-paying jobs, but those cuts should only come after the creation of jobs, not prior.

We must defend

It’s a no-brainer to defend additional funding for public education. Pensions, school safety, wrap-around programs for our disadvantaged students, infrastructure, and resources are just a few of the more serious concerns we must address. 

In addition, Beshear campaigned on the idea of raising teacher pay $2,000 across the board and making the minimum teacher salary in Kentucky $40,000. We must start funding higher education again and make it more affordable, we must give relief to those with student debt, and we should promote free community college.

When it comes to our schools, we must also return school autonomy. Our schools face problems unique to their populations and must possess the ability to address those needs in a way that’s beneficial to their students and staff. Standardization has failed on all levels.

Lastly, we must promote the idea of new revenue. Taxing corporations and the rich at a fair rate helps, but our state must find revenue from other sources that does not pass the burden onto the working class. Medical and recreational marijuana, sports betting, gambling, increased hemp production, among other possibilities, must be brought to the forefront. 

Then there are the issues that have a direct impact on our schools. We must create higher-paying jobs and raise the minimum wage to battle poverty, we must provide better healthcare options, criminal justice reform, address the opioid crisis in a meaningful way, and restore voting rights to non-violent offenders. It’s a tall order, but it can be accomplished.

Bottom line, improved public education, higher wages, affordable college, providing free or affordable technical and trade school programs, are a pathway to the middle class. Economic opportunity is a universal cure to nearly all of societies’ ills. 

Election 2020

After the legislative session, we must turn our attention to electing those who fight for the working class. Those elected in 2020 will have the task of redistricting our state, and we can expect an attempt to gerrymander our state in favor of those who do not have Kentucians’ interests at heart. We must wake up and realize our local and state elections have a far greater impact on our well-being than national elections.