Bevin: ‘Breaking the backs’ of teachers union will be among ‘best things’ for Kentucky

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Gov. Matt Bevin took another swipe at teachers and the Kentucky Education Association during a speech Wednesday, saying the union “suffocates” good teachers and uses its membership dues “to maintain power for a handful.”

“… Breaking the backs of the teachers union in this state as the controlling interest in Frankfort is going to be one of the best things that ever happened for Kentucky,” Bevin said in remarks before the Kentucky Association of County Officials in Lexington.

Bevin also criticized teacher’s unions because “they use teachers’ dues to undermine what’s best for this state so they can maintain power for a handful at the expense of the students and their parents.”

He tangled with teachers and the Kentucky Education Association, the statewide teachers group, during this year’s legislative session over changes to the state’s pension systems. A record number of teachers ran for state legislative offices in November, but few were successful in unseating incumbents.

KEA President Stephanie Winkler said Bevin’s comments show he has no respect for educators or the organizations that represent them.

“Once again, the governor’s comments show his disdain and lack of respect for educators in Kentucky,” Winkler said. “To attack and vow to ‘break the backs’ of teachers and their advocacy organization by a governor who was elected to serve all the people of Kentucky, is imprudent and irresponsible to the needs of the commonwealth’s educators, students and the public school system.”

In his speech, Bevin said unions impede the work of great teachers.

“I have people in the teacher’s union telling us that they are doing a great job,” Bevin said. “They are suffocating the very teachers that are doing a great job. They are suffocating the students who need them to do a great job.”

Winkler dismissed Bevin’s claims that teacher unions put their own interests above teachers or students.

“It seems Governor Bevin believes, or wants Kentuckians to believe, that its educators are roving mobs of revolutionaries aimed at controlling the levers of power in the state purely for our own financial and personal gain,” Winkler said. “In reality, we are hardworking teachers and support professionals who answer the school bell every morning to provide a quality education to the children of Kentucky.”

Bevin did not mention the KEA by name in his remarks.

The Republican governor, who has said he will seek a second term, said he knows that “when I run, they will bite like crazy.”

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Written by Beth Musgrave and Dan Desrochers. Cross-posted
from the Herald-Leader via the Kentucky Press News Service.

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