WCMS teacher wants voice on Fayette school board
Tyler Murphy, a social studies teacher at Woodford County Middle School, has announced his candidacy for the Fayette County Board of Education. The Lexington resident said he made his decision to run because “we are at a critical time in public education in this state. And I truly believe that public education is under attack.”
Beyond a state pension issue that could negatively affect Kentucky’s public schools being able to attract and retain quality teachers, Murphy said public schools lack necessary resources to educate students.
The state’s per-pupil funding has dipped by 16 percent since 2008 when adjusted for inflation, according to Murphy. He also cited recent action by Gov. Matt Bevin to appoint a pro-charter school commissioner of education and his efforts to open charter schools in Louisville as indicators of this attack on public education.
“What I fear is that a place like Fayette County is kind of the next in line (for charter schools),” said Murphy, a Democrat.
He argued that a growing body of evidence shows charter schools undermine public education, magnify inequalities in public school systems, spread resources more thinly and undermine the teaching profession. He described Bevin’s push to start charter schools as “a broader national agenda funded by the governor’s corporate allies to advance a for-profit industry in Kentucky and other states.”
If elected in the nonpartisan race to represent District 2 on the Fayette County Board of Education, Murphy said he’d bring a teacher’s voice and perspective. He said one of the frustrations that educators face is decisions about public education are being made my individuals who have no clue about what a teacher does on a day-to-day basis in the classroom.
“It’s important for a member of the board of education, who’s deciding how resources are being allocated, who’s deciding on … the leadership of the district, to understand the direct impact that those decisions will have on teachers in the classroom,” said Murphy.
Explaining public education’s greatest challenge moving forward, he said teachers must prepare their students to think critically and handle whatever comes their way because “we don’t know what their future holds … So what we have to do is prepare them for whatever challenges come their way…”
During what he describes as a very challenging time “politically” in Kentucky and the country, Murphy said he found himself saying, “What more can I do? I feel like I’m not doing enough even though I’m active and involved and engaged – I still wanted to find where it is that I can have the greater impact.”
He has always viewed local governments and school boards as having a direct impact on day-to-day life. He seized the opportunity to “fight for public education” after he heard that Doug Barnett, the school board member in his Fayette County district, would not seek reelection.
“I thought this may be the moment. This may be the time. And this is an opportunity that I need to seize for public education in Fayette County,” said Murphy, who has been a teacher for seven years, the last five at WCMS, serving on its site-based council.
With his passion to serve from a very young age and a belief that citizens who are involved can make a difference in their communities, Murphy said he was compelled to become a teacher for the advocates and activists of the future.
His grandfather, a World War II veteran, who he described as a Franklin D. Roosevelt Democrat, was always urging a young Murphy and his older brother to stay informed about what was going on in the country and world, and why it was important to always stay informed, he said.
Murphy said if he’s elected, “being on the school board will make me a better teacher because then I can see both sides of it. So just as I can bring to the school board the perspective of a teacher in the classroom. I can come back to Woodford and bring into classroom the perspective of someone who governs the school district and sees how those decisions are made and play out.”
Knowing his grandfather would’ve been troubled by what’s happening in state government and with public education, Murphy said, “He would be frustrated if I wasn’t in Frankfort banging down doors and wasn’t trying to find ways to make a difference.”