1,000+ Kentucky Teachers Get Warning: They Broke Law in #RedforEd ‘Sick Outs’

FILE - In this April 13, 2018, file photo, teachers from across Kentucky gather inside the state Capitol to rally for increased funding for education in Frankfort, Ky. The Kentucky Supreme Court has struck down a pension law that prompted thousands of teachers to protest at the state Capitol. (AP …
AP Photo/Bryan Woolston, File

More than 1,000 Kentucky teachers broke the state’s labor laws when they called in sick to participate in #RedforEd promoted protests over their pension funds at the state capitol this spring, Kentucky’s Secretary of Labor said on Friday.

But none of the 1,074 teachers who broke the law will be fired or prosecuted, Secretary of Labor David Dickerson said.

Instead, they were given a one-time warning, with the promise of future consequences should they break the labor law again.

“The Kentucky teacher sickout saga began on February 28, when the local #RedforEd affiliate in the state, Kentucky 120 United, launched a protest of legislation under consideration at the state legislature that shut down public schools in several counties,” Breitbart News reported.

Subsequently, Kentucky Commissioner of Education Dr. Wayne Lewiss asked for “the names of those teachers who called in sick in order to protest education legislation at the state capitol, forcing schools in several counties to close for six days in the last two weeks,” which began the investigation that culminated in Dickerson’s announcement on Friday.

“An investigation by Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration showed 1,074 teachers violated Kentucky law when they participated in a “sick out” during this year’s legislative session over concerns about their pension benefits, Labor Cabinet Secretary David Dickerson said Friday,” the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

Even though the action constituted an illegal work stoppage, no penalties will be assessed for the violations, Dickerson said.

“Let it be clearly understood that the grace extended in this instance will not be extended for future such proven violations,” he warned.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reported on Tuesday, “[Gov.] Bevin said in the interview that while his cabinet could have fined those teachers up to $1,000 per day, his administration instead will ‘show some grace in this instance’ and ‘use this as a teachable moment.’ However, he left open the possibility of fining teachers if such sickouts happen again.”

“We’ll make clear that this is a violation,” Bevin said. “If it were to happen again, people could be held into account, and it’s not going to be tolerated in the future. That’s the way this ruling, from what I’ve read, and I think it’s an appropriate one. There really is no excuse for this.”

Bevin, a Republican, faces a tough re-election challenge in November against the Democrat gubernatorial nominee, Attorney General Andy Beshear, who was recently endorsed by KY 120 United.

A Gravis Marketing Poll of 741 registered voters in Kentucky conducted between June 11 and June 12 showed Bevin leading Beshear by six points, 48 percent to 42 percent. The poll has a 3.6 percent margin of error.

As Breitbart News reported in February, #RedforEd is a teachers union movement that “has its roots in the very same socialism that President Trump vowed in his 2019 State of the Union address to stop, and it began in its current form in early 2018 in a far-flung corner of the country before spreading nationally.”

Its stated goals–higher teacher pay and better education conditions–are overshadowed by a more malevolent political agenda: a leftist Democrat uprising designed to flip purple or red states to blue, using the might of a significant part of the education system as its lever. . .

Ostensibly focused on better pay for teachers, the real objective of the #RedforEd movement, as expressed by its young founder [Noah Karvelis, then 23-years-old] at the Socialism 2018 conference held in Chicago this July, is to obtain political power to advance a socialist agenda.

“We’ve created an organization now. We have a network of 2,000 leaders who are experienced. They’ve been out on a job action. They’ve organized their campuses. They’ve collected signatures for a ballot initiative,” Karvelis said in his 13 minute speech to an estimated 1,800 fellow socialists from around the country, a number of whom were also teachers. (Beginning at the 11:00 minute mark of the video of his speech found at this KFYI webpage.

#RedforEd teacher activists in Kentucky responded to the one-time warning scornfully.

“School is just barely back in session and already Kentucky teachers have received their first threat from one of Bevin’s heavies at the Labor Cabinet,” KY 120 United, the Kentucky #RedforEd affiliate, said in a post published on its Facebook page Friday, shortly after Dickerson’s announcement:

In a move that surprised exactly no one, the Labor Cabinet rules that teacher sickouts in 2019 were illegal work stoppages and 1,074 teachers were guilty of this. While they could be assessed a fine of $1000/day, they won’t at this time. They ended their release with a threat against anyone attempting to sick out again in the future, stating there would be penalties assessed in that event.

Maybe if the labor cabinet secretary wasn’t so busy being a Bevin lapdog, he could have done his actual job and ensured the bonds were secured to pay the BlackJewel miners when the company shuttered.

Our Kentucky teachers continue to show up for our kids and help them achieve their goals. We should expect our legislators and governor and his hand picked cabinet to respect our education system and its lifeblood–teachers. As we face critical teacher shortages, this administration is bent on continuing the attacks. Game. On.

As #RedforEd teachers in Kentucky continued their dispute with the Bevin administration, an estimated 640,000 children returned to classes in Kentucky’s K-12 public schools this month. Kentucky’s public school students have performed slightly below national averages in a number of the most recent standardized tests of reading and math.

“Despite years of effort in classrooms, Kentucky still has significant numbers of students achieving at the lowest levels and too little performing at the highest, according to a Herald-Leader analysis of the 2016-17 statewide scores released Thursday by the Kentucky Department of Education,” the Herald-Leader reported in September 2017.

“Consider one-fourth of the state’s high school students earn the lowest marks possible in math and one-third scored the lowest in reading. Meanwhile, only half of the state’s elementary students can read or perform math at high achievement levels,” the Herald-Leader noted.

This past September, the Herald-Leader reported “In most areas, Kentucky schools have not made much progress at all in the last five years, Kentucky Interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis said in releasing statewide accountability results for 2017-2018.”

The assessment results released Wednesday show academic performance has remained largely flat in Kentucky public schools, including areas such as reading and mathematics, he said.

Lewis said it was “extremely troubling” that only half of elementary and middle school students tested in the state were at the level of proficient or higher. In a news release, he said achievement gaps persist for different groups of students, including students with learning disabilities and students of color.

In 2017, 33 percent of 8th graders in the country were rated proficient in math, according to the Nation’s Report Card, prepared annually by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, while 29 percent of Kentucky 8th graders were rated proficient.

In 2017, 35 percent of 8th graders in the country were rated proficient in reading, while 34 percent of Kentucky 8th graders were rated proficient.


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