I agree. What he had to say in his fifteen seconds was particularly impactful for me. In another story published by Louisville Public Media & WFPL that you can read here - https://wfpl.org/bevin-calls-for-more-workforce-training-derides-french-majors-again/ - Bevin had some things to say in a very different tone.
Bevin was quoted by LPM as saying “The purpose of public education and of public dollars going into education isn’t to humor people that are liberal,” Bevin said. “It is to ensure that people who need to hire people to do work actually have the skills necessary.”
He went on to say “Everything that is being done with taxpayer money in this state should be focused on delivering what the purpose of an education is,” Bevin said. “It’s not to have a piece of paper. Because a piece of paper with no skill behind it is of no value.”
You may recall him belittling French majors in the State of The Commonwealth Address in 2016. These, I assume, are the 'liberal' folks who have a 'piece of paper with no skill behind it" he seems to be referring to.
Believe it or not, I find a point I can agree with him on. The Kentucky legislature only has one funding mandate in the state constitution and that is to fund a system of common schools. So, yes, everything being done with taxpayer money in this state should be going towards delivering an education. He got it somewhat right.
His comments, in the context of the story above, leave two questions for me however. What is the purpose of education and what have he and the legislature during KYGA18 done with taxpayer money?
I would argue that the purpose of education is to produce citizens that can function independently in society, citizens that have marketable skills, citizens that are well rounded and have an understanding of civics, history, and other cultures, and hopefully citizens who would rather help people up than put them down. But that's just me. I would also point out that anyone completing a degree in French must have completed courses in mathematics, English, and a bevy of cross disciplinary coursework that is well beyond the scope of what is typically required to receive a high school diploma. The fact that they completed college speaks to their work ethic, ability to manage their time, and their eagerness to learn at the very least which are all very desirable skills according to my employer.
But hey, if the Governor doesn't want to subsidize the higher education of someone who isn't going into skilled trades, I get it. At least he's committed to programs in colleges and public schools that prepare students for jobs in that area, right? I mean there are programs in career and technical education as well as internships and pathways to apprenticeships in our colleges and public schools like those you'll find at JCTC, Shelby County Area Technology Center, and the Big Picture Learning Academy. Surely he supports funding those programs in a way that allows them to see their potential effectiveness?
Let's rewind the tape here, all the way back to January of this year to the 2018 State of The Commonwealth Address. I wrote a blog that night that can cover the full details of his budgetary proposals and how they could affect public education if you want a refresher or have some time to kill. You can read that blog piece here - http://www.talktowillbarnett.com/2018/01/under-attack.html . I can recap the high points for you here if you prefer...
Bevin's budget proposals outlined in the original HB200 called for complete elimination of SEEK transportation funding for public school districts, elimination of textbook funding, elimination of funding for teacher professional development training (training that is mandated by law by the way), and elimination of about 68 or so other public education programs. While some of these were rolled back by the legislature before HB200 was signed into law, it is important to note what his support for education in the budget would have accomplished. Under his proposals, every school district in Kentucky would have been bankrupt in 3 years or less unless they drastically slashed services to students. For students who can't afford college, public schools are the only shot these students have at gaining the type of education he deemed necessary while in Shelbyville. Is he suggesting that we eliminate any program that does not directly impact a student's ability to land a job? Do we eliminate music, art, foreign languages, drama, and of course athletics as sacrifices necessary to produce a piece of paper with only employable skills behind it? Is this what his generous support of education and workforce development looks like?
If taxpayer funds are not to be used for frivolous subsidies like public and higher education that enriches life from an earning potential and quality of life standpoint (or humoring people that are liberal apparently) then what exactly are we spending taxpayer funds on, Mr. Bevin?
The tax I pay for services these days appears to have increased. Does that mean, Governor, that you're spending more on this necessary aspect of education? Surely you aren't using the funds HB200 took away from education and the higher taxes that I and all other wage earners making less than $92,000.00 per year are paying for anything frivolous such as paying for tax cuts for those making over $92,000.00 per year.....are you?
You can read more about the state of Kentucky's budget, tax structure, state of education funding and more here: https://kypolicy.org/dash/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Budget-Overview.pdf