Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin was widely condemned for crassly attacking striking teachers by claiming their absence from the classroom is enabling sexual abuse of children.
Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin was already known to harbor offensive and bizarre political viewpoints. And now he has alleged that teachers demanding increased funding for education are enabling child molesters.
Schools were closed in Kentucky on April 13 when teachers went to the capital to push for more money for public schools. Their demands come after Bevin has repeatedly vetoed budget and revenue bills which contain critical education funding.
Instead of facing up to his role in the crisis, Bevin lashed out. And he smeared the teachers in a truly repugnant fashion.
“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 told a local TV station.
Bevin also said the school closures meant “a child was physically harmed or ingested poison because they were home alone.” He added that children may have also been “introduced to drugs.”
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin on the teacher rallies today. “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.” pic.twitter.com/Q4PpzFsTt2
— Marcus Green (@MarcusGreenWDRB) April 13, 2018
The backlash was immediate and bipartisan.
Kentucky House Democrats called his attack “reprehensible,” and they condemned his “petty, spiteful remarks.” They also noted that “our educators and public workers have every right to make their voice heard.”
Mary Nishimuta, the executive director of the Kentucky Democratic Party, said Bevin’s conduct was “inappropriate and perverse.”
Republican state Sen. Max Wise said, “The disgusting comments by Gov. Bevin insinuating that a peaceful protest by teachers would lead to sexual assault are reprehensible.”
Another Republican state senator, Whitney Westerfield, said he was “troubled, frustrated and disappointed by the Governor’s comments last night about teachers.”
The governor “needlessly and unjustly demoniz[ed]” teachers, Westerfield added, who “peacefully” engaged with legislators in the state capitol.
Bevin is following the lead of the Trump administration, which has also attacked striking teachers advocating for improved education.
But educators are standing up, particularly in “red” states that backed Trump, like Kentucky, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Arizona. And they’re making it clear that they’ve had enough of conservative policies that hurt children.
Bevin’s sad attempt at smearing teachers cannot stop the tide. Even some Republicans understand that taking sides against teachers puts them on the wrong side of history.