With the recent wave of teacher’s strikes sweeping the country, many, especially Republican, leaders are grasping at straws to keep from having any semblence of responsibility.  A great example of one such person is Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin.

Bevin came out this week to fight against the chronically underpaid teachers.  The strike in Kentucky is actually not even currently about wages, it’s about their pensions.  Recently, the state made sweeping changes to its teachers’ pension plans.  These changes would increase the age needed to obtain one’s pension.  It would also change new teachers plans from a traditional pension plan to a cash balance plan, and allow for the state to reduce teachers’ plans unilaterally.  While the request the reverse these changes seem more than reasonable and teachers had only been on strike for one day, Bevin believed that they were going too far.

In an interview, that I will post below. the Kentucky Governor blames teachers for potential child-abuse or self harm stemming from these strikes, arguing that single parent households may not have had the time or the money to provide adequate care for their children on strike days, and thus would be at risk.  However, his logic doesn’t exactly stand up.

I would suggest watching the whole video, though I say many of the same things, as Kyle is a great journalist and puts out lots of great videos.

What about holidays?   It stands to reason that these same kids would be home alone in cases of holidays.  It goes even further than that though.  Bevin has been actively fighting against the interests of teachers for some time.  Obviously under his oversight he has allowed for teachers pension plans to be drastically changed.  He has also vetoed tax increases on industries such as big tobacco, which were aimed at helping Kentucky schools and teachers, but would have minorly impacted his rich buddies.  Thankfully, however, not all Republicans in the state hate teachers as much or are as corrupt Bevin is, and they overrode his veto.

It seems the governor also doesn’t realize, or doesn’t want to admit, that fully funding schools, paying teachers a living wage and giving them good benefits, is an incredibly important part of giving students a good education.

If you have underfunded schools you get old textbooks that are out of date.  This creates a situation where kids are not getting the latest information and theories, which puts them behind their peers in other states or private schools.  You also get old equipment which could result in the same situation in subjects like science, it is also more interesting and easier for students to engage when they can use new technology to immerse themselves in their studies.  On top of all of this, you get potentially dangerous facilities.  Leaking faucets, mold, and various other potential disasters that present a plethora of potential health hazards for students.

Not funding teachers also leads to a lack of adequate education.  If the base of teachers needs aren’t met, its hard for them to properly instruct students.  If a teacher is stressed due to constantly worrying about their bills, then it’s hard for them to focus on giving kids the best education. This can also apply to schools who can’t afford to provide satisfactory nutrition to students, because it’s hard to study when you have an empty stomach.  Teachers also may have to take second jobs which can lead to lack of sleep or time to prepare lesson plans, or in the case of many Oklahoma teachers, governments have forced school districts to move to 4 day school weeks which also has serious consequences for educators, parents, and of course students.  I mean they could be left alone at home and attacked, right Bev?

It seems that many other people raised these arguments, and it left the Governor feeling a bit attacked to the point that he felt he needed to come out with a milk toast apology where he basically claimed that people didn’t understand him.  I will post a video of his “apology” below.

In his video he basically doesn’t say much of anything.  He doesn’t make discuss any actual policy or plans that he has.  He simply panders to the audience by saying that he has teachers in his family.  This to me makes it even more baffling that he doesn’t seem to have any ideas or plans to increase pay for these teachers, which is not their goal.  Though, he also seems to be working against their stated goal, and something that the state already promised them.  Though this is not all that surprising as it seems the Governor loves to obfuscate.  He has previously blamed ‘cultural’ issues for shootings.  So perhaps we should not be surprised that he doesn’t seem to want to actually tackle this issue head on.  In addition, as I mentioned earlier, he seems to, as most politicians, be more interested in filling his and his rich friends’ pockets first.  People need to rise up against vapid politicians like Governor Bevin who’s only real goal seems to be the enrichment of themselves and their friends.

Thankfully it seems that people are waking up to our disastrous education system in America, depending on which study you look at, the US ranks in about the mid teens in the world.  Now, one could argue that that’s not so bad.  However, we must remember that the United States is the richest country the face of the earth has ever seen.  Yet somehow we can’t break the top ten in education, we rank in the 30s in internet speed, our infrastructure gets a grade of D+, and our child mortality rate is among the highest of all developed nations.  How does the US allow this to persist.  I’d say it boils down to greed.  In any case the US people need to step up and demand better for their leaders.  Call your congressperson, support those fighting for higher wages, hell, run for office if you have a mind and situation to do so.

Do what you can and support these teachers and those like them.  The lower classes need to band together and demand fair compensation and a government that actually represents them for once.

Photo Credit: Nicola Tolin @nicolawebdesign