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Educators concerned about SB 151

Teachers, students, parents protest on courthouse steps

Teachers and concerned educators gathered at the Jessamine County courthouse Friday afternoon in response to the Kentucky General Assembly’s approval of Senate Bill 151, a pension reform bill.

Shouting “You vote now. We vote later,” protestors held signs which included demands for Gov. Matt Bevin to be voted out of office.

“It is shameful that the underhanded politics that took place last night are going to ruin public education in the state of Kentucky,” said Missie Heady, counselor for West Jessamine High School. Heady is also a Jessamine County Education Association member and serves on the Kentucky Education Association board of directors.

“We understand there is a problem,” Heady said. “We are asking for tax reform and additional revenue to fix this problem instead of putting it on the backs of new teachers. Our children and our grandchildren will not have futures because it is going to demolish our public education.”

Jessamine County Education Association Vice President Janet O’Connel said education in Kentucky needs to be put first, and teachers, educators and parents across the state are standing up to what is happening concerning SB 151.

“It is one of the first things that people think of because it impacts our future and the very people that matter are impacted by this,” O’Connel said. “I am also personally concerned about rising educators or someone who wants to be an educator in Kentucky. There is no guarantee, there is no livelihood it is going to cripple our ability to get qualified teachers and individuals who want to be a part of education.”

Jessamine County Education Association President James Botts said Supt. Matt Moore has been very supportive during this process and even donated two school buses to help transport educators from Jessamine County to Frankfort for Monday’s protest.

“He has done several things for teachers to go to Frankfort to talk to legislators and share concerns with them,” Botts said. “We are so pleased with his support through this process.”

Boots said he is concerned about what will happen if the budget passes and joins with his fellow educators in support of the local students, schools and community who feel as if their voices were not heard and feels legislation which was recently passed is discouraging for those wishing to come into the teaching profession.

“It is discouraging to them,” Botts said. “Teaching is a calling, but also when they see that they feel like they are not being supported and are not being supported by our elected officials it is probably less enticing for them.”

O’Connel said she is helping teach a new pathway in Jessamine County schools which is designed to help young people who are hoping to become educators.

“This scares me of what it does to their bright plans,” O’Connel said.