How the teachers strikes gave Democrats a win in deep red Kentucky

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

They organized get-out-the-vote programs and “Bevin is a Bully” events (deriding incumbent GOP Gov. Matt Bevin).

Vox - November 6, 2019

"By the summer of 2018, Bevin’s relationship with teachers was already ruined. Teachers organized against his campaign the way they organized their walkouts: through social media."
{Don't let the establishment power elite diminish and smear the people organizing power of social media} - Community Independent Journal

Andy Beshear just flipped Kentucky’s governor’s seat from red to blue, and he did it with an army of public school teachers behind him.

Hundreds of teachers made phone calls, knocked on doors, and offered voters a ride to the polls. They organized get-out-the-vote programs and “Bevin is a Bully” events (deriding incumbent GOP Gov. Matt Bevin).

While the teachers’ actions were driven more by their intense hatred of Bevin than by pure enthusiasm for Beshear, it still worked. On Tuesday, by a slim margin of 5,300 votes, Beshear ousted the Republican governor of a deep red state. Even President Donald Trump’s rally to support Bevin the day before wasn’t enough to save him.

In a private Facebook group, Kentucky teachers rejoiced as the results came in Tuesday night.

“I’m so proud of us!” a school librarian commented on the page of Kentucky 120 United, a grassroots group of 7,000 teachers and educators who organized the teachers strikes in 2018.

“Everyone should wear blue tomorrow because we turned KY blue,” wrote another member.

Eddie Campbell, president of the Kentucky Education Association, said he’s never seen teachers so engaged in the political process. About 1,000 members volunteered on Beshear’s campaign, he said.

“The case they made to their communities changed the course of this election and the course of public education in this state,” Campbell told me Wednesday. His organization represents more than 45,000 current and retired educators, and many aspiring teachers.

Kentucky teachers don’t get all the credit for Beshear’s win, though. Bevin is largely to blame for his own loss (as of press time, he still hasn’t conceded the race). He is one of the most unpopular governors in the country, with a 51 percent disapproval rating. And he incensed teachers last year when he tried to cut their pension benefits and public school funding. The teachers strikes that followed helped seal his fate.

Bevin’s budget cuts and insults riled up teachers

In January 2018, Bevin proposed a state budget that would have required school districts to cut costs by 12 percent, and would have slashed $16 million in funding for new textbooks and other classroom materials. That angered the Kentucky Education Association union.

Then, in April 2018, Republican lawmakers quickly passed a bill, which Bevin signed, that cut pension benefits for new and retired teachers. Teachers flipped out — 5,000 of them walked out of class to protest outside the state capitol in Frankfort.

Later that month, teachers went on strike again, temporarily shutting down every public school in the state after Bevin vetoed a two-year budget that would have boosted school funding by $480 million through various tax hikes.

Facing pressure from thousands of chanting teachers, Republican lawmakers voted to override the governor. Bevin was not happy about that, which led to another mistake. He began hurling insults at teachers.

During the April 2018 strike, he described teachers as “selfish.” He called them “thugs.” He even went so far as to blame teachers for child abuse during the work stoppage. ...
Read full report at Vox

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