By: Aubrey Youngman
A pension is a promise. All across the state of Kentucky, teachers have called in sick both on the Friday prior to Spring Break and last Friday, in protest of two new bills. One that takes away teachers’ sick days from their pension, and the other that cuts funding towards education. While educators are justified in their protest towards the bill and the manner in which it was passed, the students are the ones that are suffering the most. As end of course exams, AP testing, and finals quickly approach, students are being stripped away of not only their right to learn, but the precious class time they have to prepare. By calling in sick to protest the government’s broken promise in the security their future, educators breaking their promise to aid students in securing their own future.
The current in-state tuition for the University of Kentucky is $11,772. For senior Elizabeth Watkins, her teachers calling in could mean the difference between having to pay – more than what she would if she passed her AP exams. Watkins(12) commented, “Finals and district testing can be moved back but AP testing won’t. Since we’re on block scheduling, there isn’t enough time to review and ask questions before testing starts if they continue to call in.” For many students, the valuable class time missed could be the difference of hundreds of dollars towards their future. While teachers protest the loss of money towards their pensions, they are taking away opportunities students have towards a more stable financial future.
There is no question on how greatly teachers are needed. They are pivotal to the daily functioning of society; therefore, when schools shut down, so does society. While high school students are old enough to stay home while their parents go to work, they are not the only students affected. By closing down the entire district, over 100,000 families are suddenly scrambling to find child care service or calling to work because there is no one to help take care of their kids during the day. The fact is that teachers, just like police officers, nurses, and firefighters, are needed everyday. While the state government may not honor their value to society, the rest of the communities within the state do. We need teachers to continue to come to school and serve their community.
A pension is a promise, and the right to an education is one of the few promises one is still guaranteed to in the United States. Families, communities, and districts all across the state want to support educators and their protest against the behavior of the state government. If our educators continue to call in sick however, it will soon be difficult for not only their communities to support them, but for their students to succeed on upcoming exams that will determine their future. Educators, protest the bill that broke the promise that you believed you would earn at the end of your service to your community; but do not do it at the expense of the promise you made to your students at the very beginning of your career in service.
By: Taylor Smith
For the last two weeks, teachers across Kentucky have been calling in and standing up for what they believe in. Recently, a bill passed the Kentucky legislature that would eliminate teacher pensions, as well as dramatically decrease funding for public schools across the state. Many teachers, in response, called into school on March 30th and again on April 13th, flooding the capital building with signs and chants in protest.
Teachers pay 13% of every paycheck into a pension plan that they will get after they retire. Not only has the government spent millions of dollars of the teacher’s money, they are now breaking the promise to teachers across Kentucky.
Just over a month ago, on March 14th, teachers stood with students as we walked out of our classrooms in support of the “#NeverAgain” movement. Their support showed students that we have a voice, and how to use it. The teacher’s current protest on the capital is once again showing students that we have a right and a responsibility to stand up when we believe our government is wrong.
Teachers have also encouraged students to do their research on their government, as well as register to vote in the next election. In the 2016 general election in Kentucky, only 10.77% of registered voters were ages 17-24, and only 12.7% of all voters were 17-24. Teachers in Kentucky are trying to change that in the current group of high schoolers who will be eligible to vote in the next election by voicing their concerns and encouraging students to do the same.
Many people, teachers, students, and parents alike, believe that teachers should not be out protesting on school days, but instead teaching their students. Teachers and school administration could be protesting in other ways, such as walk ins, lobbying politicians, and protesting on the capital lawn on weekends or after school. However, teachers want to be heard, and the most effective way to do that is to shut down schools across the state.
When teachers call in on such a massive scale, parents are forced to call into work in order to watch their kids. This, in turn, causes more employee shortages in other industries in the state. When teachers protest at the capital and call in sick, the entire state shuts down, bringing education to the forefront of government official’s minds.
Teachers in Kentucky are calling in sick to stand up for something that they have been promised since the beginnings of their careers. Students have shown their support for our teachers by wearing red, participating in a walk-in, and some have even protested the capital. By calling in, teachers are calling for changes to be made and their voices to be heard.