Teachers in Kentucky went on strike in the Spring of 2018 because Matt Bevin, the Republican Governor, tried to pass a plan to cut teacher pensions and veto education funding that was passed by the State’s legislature. The pension “reform” was passed, but the legislature listened to the striking teachers and overrode the Governor’s veto of education spending:
As Kentucky teachers declare victory after the Republican-dominated legislature overrode vetoes from the state’s GOP governor of a spending plan that included new money for education, the question going forward is whether teachers will be able to sustain their momentum into the fall elections when Republicans will try to defend their super majority.
Thanks to public support for the teachers and their strike, enough Republicans in the state legislature decided at the time to go against the anti-teacher and public school crusade of Kentucky’s carpetbagging Republican Governor, who is not from Kentucky, who was instead born in Colorado, raised in New Hampshire, went to college in Virginia, worked as a financial consultant in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, and then took over his family business in Connecticut.
This prompted Matt Bevin at the time, who seems to genuinely be a horrible person, to level a disgusting accusation at the striking teachers:
“I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them,” Bevin said, according to a video posted to Twitter by a reporter for WDRB-TV. “I guarantee you somewhere today a child was physically harmed or ingested poison because they were home alone because a single parent didn’t have any money to take care of them. I’m offended by the idea that people so cavalierly and so flippantly disregarded what’s truly best for children.”
Next, the Kentucky Supreme Court gave Kentucky’s teachers and students another victory, when it struck down Matt Bevin’s pension cuts in a unanimous decision:
In a rebuke of the General Assembly and a blow to Gov. Matt Bevin’s approach to reforming Kentucky’s pension system, the state Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously struck down the pension reform law passed by the legislature earlier this year.
The high court ruled that the speedy process used by Republican majorities to turn Senate Bill 151 from a sewer bill into a 291-page pension reform bill and zip it into law violated a provision within the state constitution intended to ensure that lawmakers have the “fair opportunity” to consider a bill before voting on it.
“We declare the enactment of SB 151 was contradictory to the Kentucky Constitution and is hereby void and of no effect,” Justice Daniel J. Venters wrote for the court.
However, this battle between Matt Bevin and Kentucky’s teachers and public schools looks far from over, and the Republican Party of Kentucky is helping the Governor out by attempting to intimidate teachers into submission.
It was recently reported that the Republican Party of Kentucky has been asking to review the e-mails of public school teachers:
The Republican Party of Kentucky has sent a wave of open records requests for the work emails of several teachers, including some who ran for office in November’s election — a move it said was a way to see if there was widespread misuse of government resources.
But some educators see it as an intimidation tactic.
While the GOP has declined to say how many requests it has submitted or for whom, at least some of the requests are for Democratic candidates who lost their elections.
“I think the reason they’re doing it is they want to make everybody afraid to run again, afraid to run against the establishment next time,” said Dustin Allen, a teacher in Laurel County who made an unsuccessful bid for the Kentucky House’s 87th District.
Allen posted a video on his personal Facebook page after he learned about the open records request, saying the GOP was “trying to find dirt on me” and saying he’d welcome party members to come visit and talk with him.
“It’s made me more angry than anything else that they would try something like that,” Allen said Thursday. He originally planned to stay away from politics in the near future but now plans to knock on doors in the next election, he said.
This is so obviously an intimidation tactic. The Republican Party of Kentucky does not want teachers to strike again. And they are trying to scare teachers by snooping into their e-mails, with the implicit threat being that they could report teachers to school administrators if they find anything the feel to be unseemly. It is a classic tactic of authoritarians, of which the Republican party nationwide appears to be growing increasingly comfortable with.
Republican Gubernatorial candidates in Kansas, Michigan, and Wisconsin were just defeated this November in part due to attacks Republicans had made against teachers and public schools over the last 8 years in those states. Kentucky’s Republican party does not appear to have learned any lesson from that.