January 2024 Issue

At Beshear Inauguration, Public School Educators & Healthcare Workers Lead Inauguration Parade as Grand Marshals

As the General Assembly convenes to consider education policy, educator raises, and SEEK funding, inaugural theme “Forward, Together” should be at the forefront of their decisions

Kentucky public school educators and health care workers served as Grand Marshals of Gov. Beshear’s Inauguration Parade in December, leading the festive parade from the banks of the Kentucky river up Capital Avenue and to the state Capitol building.

The inaugural theme – Forward, Together – was chosen by the Governor and First Lady as a genuine and heartfelt commitment to the Team Kentucky philosophy that we prosper when we pull together and move forward. Educators across the commonwealth are hopeful that legislators will adopt that theme in their decision-making on education issues.

Faced with a teacher and support staff shortage in nearly every school district, Kentucky currently ranks 44th in starting teacher pay and 40th in average teacher salary. Education Support Professional like paraeducators, bus drivers, custodians, and food service workers ranked 48th nationally in average pay. Legislators have not passed a statewide raise for certified or classified public school employees since 2008.

Educators played a significant role in helping reelect Gov. Beshear, and support his “Education First” priorities. Beshear’s proposed budget calls for fully funding transportation, offering universal pre-K, and providing an 11% raise for all public school employees. Thousands of educators across the commonwealth volunteered their time and energy talking with fellow Kentuckians about the importance of public education issues. Volunteers canvassed homes, placed phone calls, wrote tens of thousands of postcards, and held get-out-the-vote events in nearly every one of Kentucky’s 120 counties.

“Public schools and public educators are at the heart and soul of our communities and Gov. Beshear understands that,” said KEA President Eddie Campbell. “That’s why he honored educators as Grand Marshals for both of his inauguration parades. It’s also why he overwhelmingly won a second-term as our governor.”

Every KEA member was invited to be a part of the group of educators to walk in the inaugural parade with scores leading the way. “Red for Ed” colors could also be seen in the crowds everywhere along the parade route.

Robin Miller, a retired KEA member and educator from Louisville, visited Frankfort to take part in the inaugural festivities. “Today is a celebration!” said Miller. “Andy Beshear has been a friend to teachers and to public education, and he will continue being a friend.

“He’s advocated for us as attorney general and governor, and he has a lot to fight against with the makeup of the house and senate in the general assembly. As a retired educator, I would encourage him to do his best to get early childhood education implemented across the state and take care of our teachers who are doing the job for all of us in Kentucky. He is our hope and the hope for public schools.”