• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Woodford teachers disappointed in Bevin’s comments

GOV. MATT BEVIN spoke during a GOP rally on Wednesday, March 7, at More Than A Bakery in Versailles. His visit here was several days before his comments about teachers “wanting more than your fair share,” during an interview about a plan to revamp the teacher retirement system on Campbellsville radio station WVLC. (Photo by Isabel Brineger)

Woodford County High School social studies teacher Sioux Finney described recent comments made by Gov. Matt Bevin about Kentucky’s public school teachers “wanting more than your fair share” as disappointing.

“I’m frustrated. I’m disappointed. I’m angry, really, because it’s not more than my fair share,” said Finney.

Woodford County Middle School teacher Charlie Kahn pointed out that state government has “borrowed” from the teacher retirement fund to put money into the general fund for decades. “It’s not our fault (the state has a multi-million unfunded liability) and yet we are being asked to sacrifice for the good of the team,” he said.

Finney, who plans to retire after this school year, said she’s paid into the Teacher Retirement System since she became a teacher (15-and-a-half-years ago) and now she expects to receive what she was promised in her contract.

Because teaching was his second career, Kahn said he will give up about half of his social security benefit earned while working in the private sector for 20 years, and “I know I’m not the only teacher with this situation.”

Kahn and other teachers are not eligible to receive social security benefits for their years in the classroom and if lawmakers vote to pass Senate Bill 1, which proposes cuts to teacher retirement benefits, “they’re not holding up their end,” said Finney.

“I’m very frustrated and very disappointed in the governor’s remarks. I felt that it was just disparaging to teachers and our whole profession,” she added.

Said Kahn, “We work long hours, are required to have advanced college degrees and attend continuing education; we study constantly to keep up with research and trends in education, and are called ‘ignorant, ill-informed, and greedy’ by our governor,” during an interview on a Campbellsville radio station last Tuesday, March 13.

Finney said it’s not unusual for her and many other teachers to work until 5:30 or 6 in the evening, and often they’re busy grading papers or preparing for the next school day into the night.

Because most teachers appreciate the value of working with young people in after-school clubs and activities, Finney said they work after hours – often with little or no pay for those additional duties.

“We remember how important (those experiences were) to us as students and so we want to give back,” said Finney.

As to the future of public education, Finney said, “I work with excellent teachers who are just starting out in the profession. They are top-notch here at Woodford County High School. I don’t want to see their futures jeopardized by a bill, Senate Bill 1 … I’m worried that we’re going to have more and more teachers leave the profession because there are several states across the country where there’s a true shortage of teachers. And I worry that’s going to be the case here.”

Finney said she’s hopeful state senators and representatives in Frankfort are hearing the united voice of educators and will do what’s right and follow through on the state’s pension promise to teachers and other public employees, who deserve their retirement benefits.

“As we say,” added Finney, “we’ll remember in November, so I hope they hear that.”

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