Archives for category: Kentucky

Linda Blackford, columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader, describes the long-standing extremist goal of privatizing public schools and shows how Republican legislators are determined to introduce vouchers, which would harm the community public schools that enroll 90% of the state’s students.

Fortunately, voters in Kentucky threw out DeVos disciple Matt Bevin and replaced him with Andy Beshear, a friend of public schools. I hope the legislature has enough Democrats to prevent the Republicans from overriding a veto.

She writes:

At the macro level, this is an attack on public education, which is foundational to our democracy, and by the way, is actually guaranteed in the Kentucky Constitution. There has always been a basic compact that everyone’s taxes support public school for everyone because they educate the children that private schools reject. (Not to mention many private schools in the South were only started to avoid desegregation.) If people really think more students should go to private schools, then they should help private schools raise more funds for scholarships, not try to game their state taxes. In Kentucky, the bill is being pushed heavily by a widespread network of Catholic schools, which could afford many, many more scholarships if they didn’t have to pay out so much money in clergy sex abuse scandals.

Of course, public schools, like private ones, could do a better job with some of their students, but the answer is not to further starve schools for funding, or siphon off a stream of students to private schools with little accountability or oversight. Public education is a public good that should be supported by the public, not diverted and destroyed by our elected public servants. Although he was himself educated privately, FDR in 1936 noted that his administration’s support of public education throughout the Great Depression “has given to this country a population more literate, more cultured, in the best sense of the word, more aware of the complexities of modern civilized life than ever before in our history.”

Public education is still the linchpin to prosperity for most of Kentucky’s population, but many legislators seem determined to starve it. Sending a few hundred kids to private school won’t make this state great. Supporting our public schools, from kindergarten to college, can.

Read more here:

Kentucky passed a law authorizing charters but never provided funding for them. The new governor of Kentucky, Democrat Andy Beshears, was elected in part because of his strong support by teachers and his commitment to public schools.

First charter school application in Kentucky rejected

NEWPORT, Ky. (AP) — The first charter school application filed in Kentucky has been unanimously denied. News outlets report Newport Independent Schools rejected the application Thursday night. The superintendent says the documents submitted by the proposed River Cities Academy lacked planning in multiple areas. A review committee says there was significant plagiarism in the application process. The committee also found a lack of authentic community support for the school. River Cities Academy can appeal the decision to the state board of education. The state approved charter schools in 2017 but a funding source for the schools hasn’t been provided

Newly elected Governor Andy Beshear campaigned on a platform prioritizing public education and promising to oust the state board appointed by DeVos ally Matt Bevin, as well as the state commissioner it appointed, Wayne Lewis, who supported charter schools. (The Legislature passed a charter authorization bill but never funded any charters.) Beshear stated bluntly that he does not support charters or any other form of privatization of public schools.

Beshear replaced the 11 members of the Bevin-appointed State Board on day one, although their terms had not expired. Today that board removed Wayne Lewis and opened a national search for a new state commissioner. 

The Bevin board is suing to protest its ouster since it was not dismissed for cause.

Newly elected Democratic Governor Andy Beshear kept a campaign promise and threw out the Bevin-appointed state school board. The Bevin board still has unexpired terms and they plan to sue to hold on to their seats. Their state commissioner Wayne Lewis–no friend to public schools or teachers–made clear he will hang on to his position as long as possible.

Governor Beshear named a new board. The old one is heading for the courts.

Fred Klonsky has the story here. 

Back when conservative Republican Governor Matt Bevin was riding high, back when he was set to promote charter schools across the state, back when Betsy DeVos visited Kentucky to tout charter schools, every school district was required to take training on how to authorize charter schools. The applications, Bevin’s hand-picked state board assumed, would be pouring in and local boards needed training.

As it happened, the legislature never funded any charter schools, and a Democrat was elected Governor who promised to support public schools and throw out the state board and the state commissioner.

Some local school districts sought permission NOT to be trained to authorize charter schools, but the Bevin state board and state commissioner refused their request. Despite the lack of charter funding, despite the election, all districts must be trained to authorize charters! 

This is an example of stubborn and delusional ideology.

Eight Kentucky school districts on Wednesday asked to skip mandatory charter school training for their school board members, but the charter-friendly state board of education unanimously voted to deny the requests.

Officials in one of the districts, Bell County, said in its request, “Any talk of creating a charter school would not get off the ground in this environment,” according to Kentucky Board of Education documents.

Kentucky Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis, an advocate of charter schools, and the Kentucky Department of Education staff, recommended that the school districts should not be excused from the training. Under Kentucky law, local public school boards have to approve or authorize and oversee charter schools and must receive training to do that job.

Lewis told the Herald-Leader that he made the recommendation because under current law, every local school in the state is required to serve as an “authorizer” of charter schools and any one of them can receive an application at any time.


Kentucky’s outgoing Republican Governor Matt Bevin made clear that he wanted funding for charter schools, but he lost the recent election to Democrat Andy Beshear. The new governor made clear that one of his top priorities was supporting public schools.

However, the State Board of Education and the State Commissioner were appointed by Bevin, and they seem to be holding on until their terms expire.

The Bevin-appointed State Board met to announce its priorities for the 2020 legislative session, which begins in early January. Its list did not include funding for charter schools, which was one of Bevin’s demands. Bevin was a close ally of Betsy DeVos, who visited the state earlier this year to promote school choice.

Even though the board was appointed by Bevin, the members’ priorities show that they heard the voters’ message.

Kentucky Board of Education members unanimously approved a legislative agenda Wednesday that they may not be able to see through. 

Education officials plan to push for full-day kindergarten, reading interventions for the youngest learners and more flexibility for schools in Kentucky’s 2020 legislative session, according to documents made public Wednesday morning. 

And they’ll ask lawmakers to solidify Gov. Matt Bevin’s reorganization of an education board through executive order — the very power Gov.-elect Andy Beshear said he will use to disband the Board of Education.  

School choice initiatives, including funding for charter schools, are missing from the proposed list. Citing waning appetite for charters, Lewis said he only wanted to include legislation that had “some chance of passing.” 

It’s a shift toward the education priorities of Kentucky’s superintendents and its largest school district after more than a year of disconnect between educators and their leaders….

Beshear, who takes office in less than a week, vowed to replace the education boardon “day one.” The new board, he has suggested, would then oust Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis. 

Beshear ran on an education-fueled platform, and said his board replacements would value public education more than “a for-profit charter school company.”

It is possible a new board will elect to push for different education bills in 2020. 

Lewis’ contract allows the board to fire him without cause but requires a 90-day notice. He told reporters Tuesday night he would stay for those 90 days — which would last most of the legislative session. 

The 2020 legislative session begins on Jan. 7.

KDE’s legislative wish list for 2020 signals a slight shift from 2019’s agenda, which focused on school choice measures and increasing flexibility for districts….

Unlike last year, KDE does not specifically ask for a third grade retention law, a controversial measure that holds back third graders until they read at grade level. 

A retention law filed last session was ultimately gutted before failing to make it to a vote. 

Defeated Republican Governor Matt Bevin was a huge fan of charter schools. The legislature passed a charter law but never funded it. Bevin appointed a new state board of education, and they appointed Wayne Lewis as state commissioner. Lewis loves charters.

A few weeks ago, Bevin was defeated by Democrat Andy Beshear, who ran on a strong pro-public education program. He chose an educator as his Lieutenant Governor. He said he would pick a new state board on day one and a new state commissioner on day two. Beshear made clear that  public education was a major priority for his administration.

Beshear has said he and Lt. Gov.-elect Jacqueline Coleman, an educator, will have no higher priority than Kentucky’s public education system and its teachers. Teacher Allison Slone, founder of a popular Facebook page called Kentucky Teachers in the Know, said she and her colleagues “are ready to move on and up from the negativity, lack of trust, and partisan politics” that they experienced under Bevin.

Not so fast, said Wayne Lewis. Beshear can’t replace the board members until their terms expire in 2020 and 2022. And Lewis has no plans to leave until the board changes.

Stay tuned.

Newly elected Governor Andy Beshear has invited teachers to lead his inaugural parade! 

Governor-elect Beshear recognizes that angry teachers powered his upset election over the loser, Matt Bevin, who showered contempt on teachers. And paid for it.

A group of Kentucky teachers will serve as the grand marshals for the inauguration parade. It’s set for Dec. 10 in Frankfort.

“In my first inauguration announcement, I want to show my appreciation for our public educators, who work tirelessly, every day to improve the lives of our children and lift up our communities, and that is why I am naming them inauguration parade grand marshals,” Beshear said Wednesday.

The Kentucky Education Association’s president called the appointment an honor and tribute to educators.

“It signals Gov.-elect Beshear’s and Lt. Gov.-elect Coleman’s clear commitment to public education and a renewed respect for Kentucky’s educators, who faced withering attacks from the previous administration,” said KEA President Eddie Campbell.

The Kentucky governor’s race is over at last.

Matt Bevin conceded defeat.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin on Thursday conceded to Attorney General Andy Beshear after a recanvass of votes confirmed Mr. Beshear’s victory in last week’s governor’s election.

“We’re going to have a change in the governorship based on the vote of the people,” Mr. Bevin, a Republican, said in a brief speech from a podium in front of the governor’s office.

Mr. Bevin, who had raised unspecified allegations of voter fraud and left open the option of challenging the results, instead acknowledged the victory of Mr. Beshear, a Democrat and the son of a two-time Democratic governor.

Mr. Beshear’s margin of victory remained unchanged after the recanvassing, according to the secretary of state: 5,136 votes out of more than 1.4 million cast.

Thank you, teachers of Kentucky! You remembered in November, as you promised.

Trump won the state by 30 points in 2016. Bevin’s attack on teachers and on their pensions ended in his defeat.

This story in the Washington Post makes clear that Republican Governor Matt Bevin list because of his mean-spirited attacks on teachers, who are respected members of their communities. It was no accident that Bevin’s Democratic opponent Andy Beshear selected a teacher as his running mate.

When they marched on the statehouse in Frankfort, Ky., in the midst of a spring snowstorm and a political firestorm last year, teachers warned the governor: “We’ll remember in November.”

Nearly 20 months later, they appeared to have delivered on that promise, helping Democrat Andy Beshear receive about 5,100 more votes than Republican incumbent Matt Bevin in the Kentucky governor’s race. It is a state President Trump carried by 30 points in 2016.

Beshear’s apparent victory comes amid a national teacher uprising in which educators have staged walkouts in more than a dozen states — and some of the nation’s largest school systems — including conservative states like Kentucky.

In his victory speech Tuesday night, Beshear gave credit to teachers.

“Your courage to stand up and fight against all of the bullying and name-calling helped galvanize our entire state,” said Beshear, who chose a teacher as his running mate. “To our educators, this is your victory.”

As attorney general, Beshear sued Bevin over his attempt to overhaul the teacher pension plan and prevailed. When Bevin sought educators’ records to investigate them for missing school to attend walkouts, Beshear sued to block the subpoena.

Educators in Kentucky — Republicans and Democrats — harnessed the momentum of those walkouts to try to propel Beshear to the governor’s office, with teacher volunteers proving key to the campaign’s get-out-the-vote effort, said David Turner, spokesman for the Democratic Governors Association.

Teachers had walked out of their classrooms over a middle-of-the-night amendment the governor pushed through to alter teacher pensions. Teachers ultimately prevailed, but not before Bevin lashed out, calling them “thuggish.” He suggested without evidence that children were being sexually assaulted and were using drugs while teachers protested, and later blamed the shooting of a 7-year-old girl on the walkout.

We used Matt Bevin’s words against him,” Turner said. His comments “really incensed not just teachers, but the folks who are friends of families of the teachers, the neighbors of teachers…”

Ashlee Kinney, a special-education teacher at West Jessamine High in Nicholasville, Ky., is a lifelong Republican who had never voted for a Democrat for governor before Tuesday. A devout Christian, she is antiabortion, a position that puts her at odds with Beshear. But she said she worried more about the damage Bevin could do to schools than she did about how much Beshear could advance abortion rights.

Beshear, she said, is “a Kentucky boy and I feel like everywhere he goes he’s very polite and he’s very kind.”

“I feel like he cares for the poor and the less fortunate, and in my job, those are the kids I am teaching,” Kinney said.