Teachers play world’s smallest violin for Wayne Lewis

Feelings hurt over “smear campaigns” & “political attacks”

Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis defended himself Wednesday to a Kentucky Board of Education that will look vastly different in January. 

The thin-skinned commissioner, who attacked teachers for exercising their Constitutional rights, threatened them with fines, promoted charter schools which would have defunded public schools, threatened repeatedly to take over Jefferson County Public Schools, and was nothing more than a partisan political hack for out-going governor Matt Bevin, is offended over criticism about his experience.

We checked your (Lewis) record, and it didn’t stack up.

You read that correctly. Lewis appears to be very thin-skinned. He also doesn’t seem to understand he’s barking up the wrong tree. Governor-elect Andy Beshear has stated he intends to appoint new members to the Kentucky Board of Education.

Rather than defending himself to a body that doesn’t have the power to retain him, he should count his blessings, update his resume, and move on from public education in the Bluegrass. Since April 2018, he’s held a position that’s normally reserved for those with decades of experience at all levels in public education. Previous commissioners were former superintendents, leaders in state education agencies, and had experience in federal agencies and associations. Lewis taught a little bit, here and there.

It’s frustrating when those who should uplift the profession, those who should lead and bring people together, spend their time breaking people down, only to express anger when their character is questioned.

There’s no need to say too much negative about Lewis at this point. He’s on his way out. However, it’s frustrating when those who should uplift the profession, those who should lead and bring people together, spend their time breaking people down, only to express anger when their character is questioned.

“The attacks on my character and my commitment and my background make me angry,” he told the board. “They make me want to lash out.”

Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis

Louisville Courier-Journal reporter Olivia Krauth reported on his hurt feelings.

“The attacks on my character and my commitment and my background make me angry,” he told the board. “They make me want to lash out.”

Lash out? What would he do if he reads my analysis of his reaction? He seems to have the temperament of a child, as did his former boss Matt Bevin. He believed individuals questioning his experience were “smear campaigns” and “political attacks.”

He was given the top education position in Kentucky – the leader of 172 school districts. He was appointed to this position with only five years of teaching experience in three separate districts. Yet he thinks his record stacks up to anyone else’s?

“Check my record,” he said.

That’s the point Mr. Lewis. We checked your record, and it didn’t stack up. Aside from five years of teaching, Lewis possesses a doctoral degree in education, and spent several years as a college professor, but that’s where his experience ends and starts.

We also checked into your dissertation, which wasn’t fun reading. Yes, I read it. Lewis studied how charter school legislation evolved in North Carolina since it’s adoption in 1996 and wrote about how charter school proponents can become more successful in North Carolina. You brought a charter school agenda to a state that mostly rejects charter schools. Sorry if that hurt your feelings.

There aren’t many people in America who have held such an important position with so little experience, so instead of whining about how you were treated, perhaps you should send your resume to another deeply unqualified education official, Betsy DeVos. You can guide her in a lesson of pouting on the way out when she is finally replaced.

Whoever our next commissioner is, they must be an advocate for public education and not special interest. I am confident Beshear will appoint an individual who will shift the pendulum toward cooperation and push for the support and funding our schools need.

We are sorry Mr. Lewis, if you feel bullied and attacked by educators in Kentucky. However, we are glad you have one foot out the door and will be ecstatic the day you depart.