What Daniel Cameron didn’t say when he rolled out his ed plan Skip to content

What Daniel Cameron didn’t say when he rolled out his ed plan

Did you read Daniel Cameron’s “education plan”? Did you see anything in it about vouchers to take money from public schools and give it to private ones? Guess what – you didn’t.

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Polls show conservative Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron is trailing, or at least in a dead heat, in his bid to unseat moderate Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear. 

So you’d think the Trump-endorsed Cameron might ease up on the Beshear-bashing to win over more independents, swing voters, and even some persuadable Democrats who might be turned off by the AG’s demagoguery.   

Cameron tried to play nice when he rolled out his education plan. He even apologized to public school teachers for the nasty stuff his party says about them and public education. (Cameron’s hero Trump never apologizes.) 

Did the polls prompt Cameron’s mea culpa

“Five thousand votes aren’t a lot, but they were enough to push Gov. Andy Beshear to the front in the 2019 governor’s race," wrote Lexington Herald-Leader columnist Linda Blackford. “His slim lead is largely credited to teachers, who were angry that then-Gov. Matt Bevin tried to end their pensions, and amidst their protests, accused them of abetting child molestation. 

“That recent history has obviously got Attorney General Daniel Cameron worried that unceasing GOP attacks on Kentucky public education system, its teachers, and its many other employees may be going too far and could affect the second governor’s race in a row. 

“For now, let’s take him at his word that he offers his new education proposals ‘out of a spirit of humility.’ That’s not a word we hear out of politicians’ mouths very often.”

Added Blackford: “According to the Courier Journal, the confession continued: ‘I know that you might have some apprehensions about me, or for that matter, any Republican nominee for governor,’ Cameron said. ‘So, let me just simply say, I’m sorry — sorry for any comments that have made you feel less than valued or have led you to have serious misgivings about the Republican Party on the topic of education.’

“So the putative head of the party that has basically called every public school teacher a woke pedophile or groomer for the past few years is now sorry and hopes you’ll vote for him,” she wrote. “This is a little harder to take at face value.”

KY 120 United-AFT is similarly skeptical, declaring in a statement, “We aren’t buying the newfound love Daniel Cameron has for public education. His choice in a running mate makes it clear where he stands. Andy Beshear and Jacqueline Coleman STOOD with educators when our pensions were attacked. They didn’t hide in offices or act wishy washy on the issue – they SHOWED UP. And they have continued to show up every day. We aren’t fooled by any of this rhetoric. And will vote pro public education this November.”

The Kentucky Education Association is also backing Beshear and prefers his education plan, too. “Andy Beshear continues to boldly back up his promise to be an ‘Education First’ governor with his proposed education budget for 2024,” KEA President Eddie Campbell said in a statement. “His commitment to Kentucky’s students, families, and educators has been a constant and driving force to improve and invest in the commonwealth’s future – our children.”

The statement continued: “At a time when Kentucky faces a teacher and school staff shortage across the entire state, Gov. Beshear continues to challenge our General Assembly to look forward and invest in tomorrow. That starts with making Kentucky’s public schools an attractive career choice. Recruiting and retaining high quality educators will require competitive starting salaries and reliable, affordable benefits. Beshear’s 11 percent pay raise for public school teachers and staff will do just that.

“Gov. Beshear understands that competitive salaries are just part of the solution. His plan also addresses issues that have left our public schools understaffed and many state universities with a shortage of education majors. Fully funding teacher pensions, ensuring health insurance premiums remain the same for all education employees, offering teacher student loan forgiveness, and providing meaningful professional development opportunities will assure future and current educators they are valued.

“Educators deserve respect for their professional work, whether that’s in the classroom, on a bus, as an administrator, in the cafeteria, or in any other role that supports student learning. Governor Beshear understands that well. He has consistently been a champion on behalf of the more than 600,000 public school students, 40,000 active teachers, and 50,000 school staff educators across the commonwealth. We sincerely appreciate his leadership on these important issues.”

In a news release, Kentucky Democratic Party spokesperson Anna Breedlove called out Cameron for failing, in his rollout, to mention his support for private school vouchers, which she said is “the centerpiece of his policy agenda for education in Kentucky.”

The release cited 14 times since just before last Christmas that Cameron has touted vouchers: 

  • 12/21/22: During a Spectrum News interview, Cameron said he was “saddened” that the Kentucky Supreme Court struck down a voucher scheme.
  • 2/13/23: Cameron said “yes sir” in response to a question on supporting vouchers in Bardstown.
  • 2/16/23: In Madisonville, Cameron praised the voucher policies of other states as a way to “break down” teachers unions.
  • 3/8/23: Cameron said “yes” when asked point blank about his support for vouchers in a GOP debate.
  • 4/18/23: At a Paducah GOP Forum, Cameron said he would “prioritize” vouchers.
  • 5/1/23: On KET, Cameron praised the education policy of pro-voucher Governor Huckabee Sanders.
  • 5/3/23: In Kenton County, Cameron said “the answer is yes” on pushing for vouchers.
  • 5/3/23: The same day in Georgetown, Cameron doubled down on vouchers support.
  • 6/16/23: At a Stanford event, Cameron again praised voucher programs.
  • 6/20/23: In Morehead, Cameron said that other states’ voucher programs were “a model” to have in Kentucky.
  • 6/22/23: In Henderson, Cameron again praised other states’ governors for voucher programs.
  • 6/28/23: Cameron said “we can do [vouchers] here” at a Scottsville event.
  • 7/7/23: In Greenville, Cameron again reiterated his support for vouchers.
  • 7/14/23: In Hardinsburg, Cameron said that vouchers programs were “what is at stake in this race.”

A subsequent KDP release says a trio of outside far-right-wing, pro-voucher groups — Rand Paul's Protect Freedom PAC, Americans for Prosperity, and School Freedom Fund — “are spending millions of dollars” to boost Cameron. That’s because “they know if he is elected he will back their vouchers-for-private-schools agenda,” Breedlove said.

Hence, mum was the word from Cameron when he debuted his education plan, Breedlove added in the previous release, “because he knows that taking taxpayer dollars out of public schools and giving them to unaccountable private schools is wildly unpopular.”

There are those worrisome polls to boot.

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Berry Craig

Berry Craig is a professor emeritus of history at West KY Community College, and an author of seven books and co-author of two more. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)

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