GOP Governor Claims Teacher Strikes Lead to Child Sexual Assault

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin claims to believe that teachers’ strikes enable the sexual assault of children.

In comments to reporters noted by WDRB-41 on Friday afternoon, Bevin said:

Here’s what’s crazy to me. 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.

The Tea Party-affiliated governor then added the prospect of poisoning or general physical harm to the controversial mix of dangers definitely facing children in Kentucky while their teachers shut down schools.

Bevin said, “I guarantee you somewhere today a child was physically harmed or ingested poison because they were home alone because a single parent didn’t have any money to take care of them. I’m offended by the idea that people so cavalierly and so flippantly disregarded what’s truly best for children.”

The Republican governor’s comments were directed at thousands of protesting teachers who had previously overwhelmed Kentucky’s capitol building in an unexpected show of political force against GOP-proposed pension cuts–brought on by a proposal to slash tax rates for Kentucky’s wealthiest residents.

The historic strikes and school closures in Kentucky follow wildly successful examples set by organized teachers in West Virginia and Oklahoma. Those teachers’ victories showcase a nascent political movement led by working class socialists and other left-populist activists. This movement, largely dismissive of both major political parties, has so far achieved its victories through the use of “wildcat strikes”–strikes called for by individual groups of workers and independent of traditional union bosses.

Similar to those prior groundswells of rank-and-file worker muscle in the Sooner and Mountain States, the sustained protests were also aimed at increasing funding for education in the Bluegrass State. 

Underscoring the severity of the political tension, crises and opportunities created by the public employees’ massive show of strength, many teachers have vowed not to quit until they successfully reshape Kentucky’s political landscape, according to the Courier Journal.

Bevin’s controversial comments appear likely to only increase the teachers’ resolve.

Kentucky Education Association President Stephanie Winkler said, in comments to the Lexington Herald Leader, “There are no words. My mouth was hanging open and I don’t even know what I can tell you.”

In comments to the Courier Journal, Winkler said, “There is no rational comment I could make to that.”

Recently retired teacher Jeri Johnson, a 28-year veteran of Kentucky’s public schools, said, “It’s not over.”

[image via Scott Olson/Getty Images;video courtesy Marcus Green/Courier Journal]

Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher

Editor’s note: this article has been amended for clarity.

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