Education rally tomorrow

Joe Lord

She won’t sit by and wait.

Amy House, a senior from Franklin, Tenn., will begin a career as an elementary school teacher after she graduates this May. With state budget cuts looming, finding such work in Kentucky may pose a problem for her.

“I’m hoping that there will be enough openings for most of us to find jobs,” House said.

Hoping isn’t enough — she plans on doing something about it.

House and other public school employees from across Kentucky will rally tomorrow in Frankfort in hopes of keeping the state’s budget woes from finding their way into the classroom.

Among the rallying ranks will be student teachers from Western, such as House, who are also trying to find jobs in Kentucky.

The rally, organized by the Kentucky Education Association, is expected to draw thousands of public school teachers and support staff to the steps of the state capitol building, KEA President Frances Steenbergen said. It begins at 1 p.m. EST.

The goal is to ensure Kentucky’s public schools keep their state funding, Steenbergen said. They are also trying to ensure their districts get money for other concerns, such as pay increases for teachers.

Warren County Public Schools are allowing their teachers to attend the Frankfort rally by switching a professional day, Charlene Rabold, president of the Warren County Education Association, said

WCEA is providing five charter buses to help send about 500 supporters to Frankfort, Rabold said. Another group of public school students will depart from Greenwood High School to join the Warren County contingent.

House’s roommate, Auburn senior Charla Barnett, will also attended the rally. She is a student teacher at Warren East High. This spring she will enter the high school math job market.

Like House, she is attending the rally to be heard.

“I just feel like it’s something I can do,” she said. “It makes me feel better to know I didn’t just sit around when I knew I could do something to speak out.”

House, who is student teaching at Natcher Elementary, said her school could lose as many as two certified teaching jobs next year.

“I hope we can just show legislators that they need to increase funding for education,” she said.

Warren County Public Schools could lose as many as 60 certified teaching jobs from budget cuts in the next fiscal year, Rabold said. Those cuts could harm progress made toward improving public education in Kentucky.

Bowling Green City Schools will send about 30 people to Frankfort tomorrow, Linda Livers, president of the Bowling Green Education Association, said. Her group is also going to help save public schools from state budget cuts.

“If we don’t have funding for our schools, what is going to happen to our students?” Livers said.

Western officials have said saving public education from state budget cuts could mean as much as a six percent reduction for higher education and as much as nine percent for the following fiscal year.

Steenbergen said their goal is not to take away from Western and its sister schools.

“What we are saying is that there should be no cuts to education,” Steenbergen said. “But we are saying there needs to be revenue raised.”

KEA has only advocated increasing Kentucky’s cigarette tax, Steenbergen said.

Kentucky’s budget shortfall for the current fiscal year has been projected to be as much as $400 million.

“We’re not telling the legislature how to raise the revenue,” Steenbergen said. “What we’re saying is the state needs revenue.”

Reach Joseph Lord at [email protected]