Teachers showed the country how powerful of a force they could be against those who wish to slash funding for public education.
“For nearly three years, teachers have displayed a historic wave of activism across the country over issues of pay, increased funding, support services and the creep of charter schools, and that’s been especially true in Kentucky.
‘To our educators, your courage to stand up and fight up against all the bullying and name calling helped galvanize our entire state,’ [Attorney General Andy] Beshear said Tuesday evening during a victory speech. As of Wednesday, election results remained unofficial as Bevin sought a recanvas of the vote.
The two national teachers unions were quick to pin Bevin’s close race on the increased unrest that’s taken root in more than a dozen places this year alone, including in Kentucky, where for the last two years in a row educators walked off the job to protest for higher pay and increases to the public education system.
‘This victory demonstrates the power of educators and how the #RedforEd movement is reshaping the political landscape in Kentucky and across the nation,’ says Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association, of the dozen-plus rallies, protests and strikes staged by teachers this year, most recently in a historic 11-day strike in Chicago.
‘Educators are empowered and engaged like never before, and they made their presence felt in this election,’ García says. ‘They invested their shoe leather marching and going door to door. They spent their nights and weekends on the phone, calling voters. And educators have used their voice.’
For more than a year, members of the Kentucky Association of Education organized phone banks, parades, community walks, neighborhood canvasses. They even hosted ‘Bevin is a bully’ events.
‘This is a piece of something bigger,’ Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, says. ‘I think that what you’re seeing about Kentucky, particularly as it relates to both Bevin and [Sen. Mitch] McConnell, is the complete disgust of suburban women at what is going on in America today.’
Teachers are among the most politically active bloc of voters already, but in Kentucky their brush-ups with Bevin, whose most recent budget request proposed slashing funding for K-12 education by nearly $200 million, bolstered that in ways not previously seen.”
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