I have always said that the three groups best equipped to fight corporate reform were students, parents, and retired educators. Given the amazing success of Pastors for Texas Children in blocking vouchers, I must add a fourth category. These are people who cannot be accused of having an ulterior motive. They are free to speak out and act.

Kentucky activists, mainly retired educators, are fielding candidates to challenge legislators who harm public schools. Forward Kentucky has the story.

“One of the striking stories of the 2018 elections in Kentucky is how many educators and former educators are running, and how many other candidates listed public schools and education as a prime reason for their entering the race. How did this happen?

“In this post, Gay Adelmann of Save Our Schools KY (and a ForwardKY contributor) describes her own work, and the work of others, to be sure that incumbents who voted against public education had a pro-public-school challenger. Many groups were involved, but kudos to Gay and the other people in this story for lining up a large number of educators to run.

::[Gay Adelman writes]:

“Last November, Lucy Waterbury, myself, and Bob Wagoner and Tim Abrams with Kentucky Retired Teachers Association met to discuss ways that we could work together to support public education. We lamented the fact that many well-intended legislators don’t fully understand the unintended consequences poorly planned legislation can have on our public schools. We also discussed how many of these legislators have not set foot in a public school in a decade or more, and often their own children attend private schools. The only way to understand and write meaningful legislation that will positively impact public education outcomes is to have lived it. So we said, “Who better than retired teachers to run for office? They’re retired, so they have time on their hands. Plus they’ve lived the experience.”

“During the conversation, we talked about the fact that most educators are female. In addition, because women outlive men in general, most retired teachers are females. It’s somewhere in the 90% range.

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could get retired teachers to run for office? We looked at each other and said, “We need a few good women!” And it stuck. The idea of A Few Good Women Kentucky was born.

“In December, Lucy and I returned to speak at the KRTA monthly event. We encouraged them to help us identify retired superintendents, principals, and well-known teachers who were willing to step up.

“In the meantime, David Allen, formerly of KEA, was doing some more work in his circles. He reached out to multiple teachers and educators he knew, encouraging them to run. He started posting messages on social media and in Kentucky Teachers in the Know, a closed group on Facebook. Once we learned of his efforts, we tag-teamed to support his efforts through marketing, data, and cross-promotion, educating people about the importance of getting educators to run. We also made an effort to minimize duplication, so that we would not have multiple candidates filing against each other.

“We also connected with the Kentucky Initiative, attended local party meetings, followed up on leads, and reached out to anyone we thought would make a good candidate.

“Our target list was different than the target list of other groups. We specifically wanted to make sure that anyone who voted against public education and 2017 did not run unopposed in 2018. Party was not as important as their understanding of the threats to public education. But that didn’t mean there wasn’t some overlap.

“A Few Good Women KY worked with other members of Save Our Schools KY, KDP, the Kentucky Initiative, NKP, and Indivisible District 4, and sent feelers out to other groups as well. We would hear of someone considering it and tag team to help them understand the importance of filing, and offer to help them connect with groups and services to support their campaigns, since this was going to obviously be a year of grassroots campaigns. In the debut episode of Women on Watch, Joni Jenkins referred to it as a $200 insurance policy. Having a challenger keeps legislators on their toes and prevents them from voting on or introducing bills the remainder of the session without having to answer for it in November.

“In addition to recruiting current or retired educators, we also identified those with a track record of being outspoken champions for public education: School board members, grassroots activists, and public school parents.

“In fact, I realized my own senator did not have a public education champion running against her. And, she showed she was susceptible to being swayed by Koch rhetoric when she voted for charter schools, despite the warning of many of her constituents (myself included). So, I decided if I was going to talk the talk, I needed to walk the walk, and I filed to run for State Senate.

“It’s more important than ever to provide voters with assistance in navigating through the corruption and hidden agendas. A Few Good Women KY will offer tools to educate voters on how to spot and avoid Koch candidates, as well as literature for candidates to take with them when they canvas their neighborhoods. And, we will showcase candidates who have a proven track record in favor of public schools. We want to make it as clear-cut as possible for voters. We don’t have any money, so we have to work harder AND smarter at getting the word out.”

Money matters, but dedication, enthusiasm, and knowledge can beat the Koch Brothers.

Go for it, Kentucky!

You inspire us all!