You may not remember me, but I remember you very clearly. On Thursday, August 18th, I tapped you on the back at the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville and told you that I would have your job one day. My dream, other the becoming the governor of our once-great state, could be shattered due to the unfair and cruel mistreatment of our teachers and the future of our state’s education. To give some background knowledge, Kentucky is ranked 45 out of 50 for state educational attainment. I’m sorry, Mr. Governor, but I believe that Kentucky should be #1. If we really want to be first, we cannot eliminate our teacher’s pensions.
As the daughter and the sister of educators and as a possible future educator myself, I am so very worried about our Kentucky’s teachers. I fear for the state of Kentucky’s teachers, my teachers, and my family. I am terrified that those who already face disadvantages on a day-to-day basis will further be pushed into the depths of unfairness due to our pension crisis. The ideas being proposed for our teachers are dangerous. Kentucky’s teachers are hardworking. Many of these educators are parents, providers, or caregivers. How can they afford to have their money taken away? Questions are brewing, Mr. Governor. These hardworking educators feel as though they are being betrayed by our state government. Cut pensions, retirement, and paid sick days are pushing students away from the field of education. Many of my teachers have even gone as far as to say that I should move to a different state if I want to be a teacher. Now, Mr. Governor, that’s a problem.
Kentucky currently has 18,000 teachers eligible for retirement – and believe me, they will retire if they know their hard-earned money is going to be removed, changed, or disrupted. My mother is one of those 18,000. The morning following your proposal, she called to “check her numbers” for her retirement. I guarantee she was not the only one. My brother is a nontenured teacher who plans on furthering his education, getting married, and starting a family within the next few years. How is he going to be able to afford a master’s degree, a wedding, a honeymoon, a home, a child, and his bills with a deducted teacher’s salary or possibly even no job at all? Governor Bevin, he can’t. This unfair treatment of our teachers has to stop. Creating a 401K plan for our teachers and only paying for 30% of accumulated sick days is the wrong move. Even I know that.
Our state motto says “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.” Kentucky is a divided state. We are facing job shortages, possible teacher strikes, and the possible closing of schools due to the proposed ideas. Increasing the retirement age will steer people away from the field of education. Teachers are already paid unfairly, so why should we ruin the great aspects of that career field? Mr. Governor, our state is currently in a financial abyss. We are $33 billion short of the money needed to pay retirement bills for the next 30 years. Frankly, that’s a lot of cold, hard cash. Do Kentucky teachers deserve the money that’s rightfully theirs? Should Kentucky teachers suffer due to incompetent workers who mishandled money? Mr. Governor, I don’t think so. In a recent quote, you said “"We may have to knock them out in order to get them safely to shore.” I believe that we cannot just “knock” our teachers out; if it hadn’t been for others who misplaced teacher retirement funds, we would not be drowning in this sea of debt and despair. I believe in Kentucky’s teachers and I think that you should as well. Someone has to make a difference for our teachers. Blow us all away, Mr. Governor. Save our teachers. Save the retirement. Save the sick days. Protect the pension. Teachers need it, our students need it, and Kentucky needs it.
Dear Mr. Bevin...