Kentucky teachers

Rhonda J. Miller

Four educators were inducted in the Louie B. Nunn Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame Friday in Bowling Green.

Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman recognized the teachers in ceremonies at Western Kentucky University.

Coleman said they exemplify the ideal of offering all Kentuckians an excellent education so they have a path to a good career and can support their families.

“These four inductees - Evelyn Douglas, Sharon Coomer Mattingly, Lynn Reidling, and Wanda Carol Clouse - are shining examples of teachers who have lived out this ideal,” said Coleman.

The lieutenant governor highlighted their range of specialties, from teaching to administration. The inductees represent large urban school districts and small rural ones.  

Associate Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education, Dr. Byron Darnell, led the induction ceremonies.

Jess Clark/WFPL

School districts across Kentucky are in high gear as they prepare for a return to in-person classes.

But on top of recovering from the COVID-19 upheaval of changing schedules and virtual instruction, there’s another wrinkle in the preparation.

A state education leader said there’s an unusually large number of vacant positions.  

The Kentucky Education Association represents 44,000 teachers and other school employees, including cafeteria workers and custodians. 


Ryland Barton

Kentucky Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis says it is not within the Kentucky Department of Education’s authority to investigate political emails sent from a private individual to teachers’ professional email accounts.

On Wednesday, the Kentucky Education Association called for Lewis or the Kentucky Board of Education to lead a state investigation into political emails teachers in several rural Kentucky school districts received at work. 

The teachers in at least eight districts received emails criticizing Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear over the last two weeks. The emails went to the teachers’ public school email addresses and were sent from an unknown supporter of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. Bevin has said that his campaign was not behind the effort.

Liz Schlemmer

The Kentucky Labor Cabinet filed a notice of removal Thursday, seeking to move a lawsuit Attorney General Andy Beshear and the Jefferson County Teachers Association filed in state court to federal court.

The lawsuit sought to block subpoenas the Kentucky Labor Cabinet issued to 10 school districts to seek attendance records that could identify school employees who called in sick to protest during the last legislative session.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear says he’ll take Gov. Matt Bevin to court if he doesn’t rescind subpoenas for information about teachers who participated in protests in Frankfort last month.

Last week, the Kentucky Labor Cabinet demanded information from several school districts identifying the names of teachers who called in sick on the same days that protests took place in Frankfort.

Liz Schlemmer

The Kentucky Department of Education recommends school districts revise their leave policies to close a “loophole” that allows teachers to hold “an illegal work stoppage.”

The move comes in response to teachers in 10 counties staging a so-called “sickout” for a single day in February to protest an education bill in Frankfort. Bullitt County Public Schools closed for a total of 3 days, and Jefferson County Public Schools for a total of 6 days, as some teachers continued to call in sick during March to advocate at the Capitol.

Liz Schlemmer

Jefferson County Public Schools is closed on Wednesday, for the second time in a week, as educators rally in Frankfort to protest several pending pieces of legislation.

There are three specific bills drawing concerns: HB 525, which would remake the board that manages teacher pensions; SB 250, which only affects JCPS and would give the district’s superintendent more power, including to appoint principals, without the approval of a district school council; and HB 205, which would allow for scholarship tax credits.

J. Tyler Franklin

Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office is reviewing a new emergency regulation recently enacted by Governor Matt Bevin impacting public access to state buildings and facilities. The new rules require those wanting to assemble at a state building to submit an application ten days in advance of the event.

“And that could be potentially problematic because if you take an example of last year when there were more or less spontaneous reaction to and demonstration against the pension reform measure that seemingly wouldn’t pass muster under the new administrative regulation,” said Michael Abate, a Louisville based attorney with experience in media and constitutional law.


Ryland Barton

After Gov. Matt Bevin called a surprise legislative session on Monday afternoon, state lawmakers traveled to Frankfort and began working on a new attempt to overhaul the state’s pension systems.

Following hours of closed-door discussion, Republican leaders of the legislature filed two different versions of a new pension bill. One is similar to legislation struck down by the Kentucky Supreme Court and the other is a new proposal brought by Gov. Matt Bevin.

Aaron Payne

Thousands of union coal miners and their families gathered this summer in Columbus, Ohio, wielding signs and wearing camouflage United Mine Workers of America shirts.

UMWA President Cecil Roberts led the crowd in a call-and-response chant.

“I want you to send a loud, clear signal that we are one! We are one!”

But the miners weren’t there for a strike or to picket a company over a contract dispute. They were demonstrating to draw attention to an often overlooked issue: Pensions.


J. Tyler Franklin

The annual Fancy Farm political speaking event takes place this weekend, signaling the unofficial kickoff of the fall election season in Kentucky.

The festival is a fundraiser for St. Jerome’s Catholic Church in the Graves County town of Fancy Farm in far-western Kentucky.

For more than a century the event has attracted Kentucky politicians trying to sway voters and in recent decades has evolved into a raucous affair where speakers insult and tease opponents while the crowd heckles and chants.

Ryland Barton

Kentucky voters will head to the polls on Tuesday to decide who will compete for seats in the state legislature this fall.

This year’s statehouse primary elections feature a handful of crowded contests for seats vacated by retiring legislators. And dozens of teachers are hoping to ride a wave of outrage into Frankfort after launching massive protests at the state Capitol this spring.

Travis Brenda has been teaching at Rockcastle County High School for the last 19 years. He lives on a farm in Cartersville in southern Garrard County. Brenda is a Republican but he said he’s disappointed in how the fully-Republican controlled legislature is doing business.


Nonviolent Owensboro

As mass shootings and other violence seems to occur ever-more frequently in our country and around the world, an Owensboro organization has the goal of encouraging peace, one person and one community at a time.

Nonviolent Owensboro is working with other local organizations to support peaceful public dialogue, even among those with differing opinions. The group is sponsoring a workshop on how to step out and offer an opinion – peacefully.

Daviess County teacher Peggy Wilson is a member of Nonviolent Owensboro.

Kara Lofton, WVPB

When Oklahoma teacher Sally Salmons saw momentum building toward teacher protests in her state, she immediately reached out to family ties and educators in West Virginia. She said teacher walkouts in the Mountain State provided her and colleagues across the state with the courage they needed to take a stand.

“We looked at West Virginia and said, ‘Now’s the time to get on it.’ I think it gave us confidence to really, finally cross that line,” she said.


Teacher Victory: Kentucky Lawmakers Override Budget Veto

Apr 13, 2018
Ryland Barton

With the chants of hundreds of teachers ringing in their ears, Kentucky lawmakers voted Friday to override the Republican governor's veto of a two-year state budget that increases public education spending with the help of a more than $480 million tax increase.

The votes came as thousands of teachers rallied inside and outside the Capitol, forcing more than 30 school districts to close as Kentucky continued the chorus of teacher protests across the country.

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