Kentucky’s GOP Governor Says Teacher Protests Enable Child Sexual Assault

Matt Bevin’s comments outrage educators demonstrating at the state capitol.

Teachers from across Kentucky gather inside the state Capitol to rally for increased funding for education on Friday. Bryan Woolston/AP

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

On Friday, just hours after protesting teachers flooded Kentucky’s capitol building to rally against a pension reform plan and call for increased school funding, the state’s Republican governor, Matt Bevin, suggested school closures caused by the striking educators were endangering children.

“Here’s what’s crazy to me,” Bevin told a reporter from WDRB. “You know how many hundreds of thousands of children today were left home alone? I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them.” He spoke of children ingesting poison or being physically assaulted because they were home and “a single parent didn’t have any money to take care of them.” 

The governor’s response to the striking teachers sparked outcry and disbelief from state lawmakers and educators. “My mouth was hanging open and I don’t even know what I can tell you,” Kentucky Education Association President Stephanie Winkler told the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Bevin’s comments came as thousands of teachers gathered in Frankfort on Friday to protest Bevin’s signing of a bill to overhaul the state’s pension system. They were also calling on Kentucky lawmakers to override the governor’s veto of a $22 billion budget bill that contained significant education funding. On Friday, the state house and senate reversed the veto.

The long-brewing demonstrations followed protests by educators in Oklahoma, Arizona, and West Virginia, who were frustrated about low pay and deep cuts to school funding. The showdown between Kentucky teachers and Bevin ramped up in recent weeks after he warned educators that it was illegal for them to walkout. The Kentucky Education Association recently joined a lawsuit filed by Kentucky’s Democratic attorney general, Andy Beshear, challenging the pension reform bill.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate