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Kentucky Democrats
May 30, 2024

ICYMI: KDP Chair Elridge Op-ed in Herald Leader: Republican ‘Appreciation’ of Kentucky Teachers is Hollow Praise

Media Contact
Jonathan Levin
jonathan@kydemocrats.org

Frankfort,Ky.— In case you missed it, KDP Chair Colmon Elridge penned an op-ed in the HeraldLeader blasting Kentucky Republicans’ hollow “appreciation” for Kentucky teachers and their failure to provide educators an across-the-board 11% raise this legislative session — a key priority that Governor Andy Beshear included in his Forward Together budget proposal.

 

“I was scrolling through social media recently when I came across a video message posted by the Kentucky House Republicans that caught me off guard. It’s not that it was particularly compelling or captivating — it was just a lie that would have been outright laughable had it not been so insulting. The very same GOP lawmakers who were now expressing their admiration for Kentucky’s educators during Teacher Appreciation Week had, just a few weeks earlier, decided not to give them a raise. This is the very definition of gaslighting,” wrote Chair Elridge.

 

Read more from Chair Elridge here and below:

In December, Governor Andy Beshear released his Forward, Together budget proposal, which included an across-the-board 11% raise for educators in our state.

 

Because of the Governor’s stewardship of our economy, we could not only afford to give the teachers, custodians, bus drivers, and other professionals who are always there for our children the raises they deserve, but investing in our educators would go a long way to attract and retain those who have been pushed away by the vengeful actions of the legislative majority.

 

Republicans in the General Assembly didn’t want to pay educators their worth, even though we had the money to do so. They instead chose to leave them and Kentucky’s children, behind.

 

A recent report paints a troublesome picture as to how dire the situation in Kentucky is when it comes to teacher pay. Our state just dropped from 40th to 41st nationwide in teacher salaries, with our average now at just over $56,000 — far below the national average of $69,544. For starting salaries, we’re 45th.

 

Those rankings aren’t just embarrassing; they are also the foundation of a glaring issue. How can we expect our Commonwealth to remain competitive when neighboring states like Indiana and Ohio are eating our lunch by paying their teachers more than we are?

 

And if the numbers alone don’t convince you, go ahead and ask an educator in your community just how much a raise means to them.

 

Other public servants — including state troopers and social workers— received a well-deserved raise under Governor Beshear and Lieutenant GovernorJacqueline Coleman. These pay bumps are addressing worker shortages and high turnover within both of their respective industries. So why did Kentucky’s educators not make the cut this time around?

 

It’s because teacher salaries are just one front in Republicans’ never-ending war against public schools. The Kentucky GOP is now doubling down on its mission to steal our tax dollars and send them to underregulated and exclusive private schools, with a new measure on the ballot come fall.

 

Democrats know and understand that Kentucky’s students can only thrive if our schools do as well. This November, we’re going to make sure that remains the case.

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