Between the SCOTUS decision to let stand Kentucky’s anti-abortion law and former Governor Matt Bevin’s middle finger to the justice system (see Meteor Blades’ diary on Bevin’s corrupt pardonfest), I wanted to let you all know about some good political news out of Kentucky.
- Democratic Govenor Andy Beshear shit canned the Kentucky Board of Education that had been filled with Bevin cronies. And he has appointed all new members. He said he was going to do this, and he did it by executive decision on his first day in office.
- The new Kentucky Board of Education shit canned the Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis. Bye Bye Lewis. For those not familiar with Lewis, here are some of his greatest hits:
Just two weeks later, Lewis announced the state would take over Jefferson County Public Schools. The state ultimately settled with JCPS, avoiding a takeover. But a contentious, months-long debate over the future of the district added to Lewis' detractors…
Over his roughly 18 months leading the department, Lewis oversaw several major developments, including:
- The roll-out of the state's new school accountability system;
- The passage of new graduation requirements for high school students;
- A push to recruit more teachers, including through dropping the requirement that Kentucky teachers earn their master's degrees.
He also gained notoriety for threatening disciplinary action against those who continued to push for the sickouts that shut down JCPS six times earlier this year.
Lewis wanted to take over Jefferson County Public Schools in order to institute charter schools. Jefferson County is the largest and wealthiest county in the state, and the JCPS teachers’ union is the strongest in the state. There was all that money to be funneled to charter schools and a union to try and bust.
And as a former public high school teacher, no one was happy about the new graduation requirements because they raised standards WITHOUT giving teachers any more resources. Work miracles folks with little to no resources in a poor state! Fuckin’ turd.
The above quotation is from the Louisville Courier-Journal, which is trying to be “balanced” in its treatment of Lewis. I won’t link to the paper’s other attempt at balance, which was to say that Beshear’s “liberal honeymoon” was going to be short lived. Ummmmmm…I am a Kentucky progressive, and I am more than happy with Beshear’s actions so far.
Yes, Beshear is a MODERATE that I support. Shock shock to the moderates on Daily Kos who cannot imagine a progressive supporting a moderate Democrat in Kentucky. Most Democrats running for statewide office are all moderates, and it is not because we have choices between progressives, moderates, and conservative Democrats. We get only moderates and conservatives.
But Beshear has been keeping his campaign promises, and I agree with those promises. And Beshear will be limited in his powers because Republicans control the legislature. But I am more than happy that he is changing the trajectory of the state.
Oh, and Beshear did this too:
FRANKFORT — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Thursday signed an executive order to automatically restore the right to vote to more than 140,000 convicted felons with completed sentences, cutting down one of the nation’s highest rates of voter disenfranchisement.
The move largely restored the 2015 order issued by his father, former Gov. Steve Beshear, which was quickly nixed by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, who narrowly lost his re-election bid last month.
“I believe in the law,” Beshear said. “I also believe in redemption, in second chances.”
Yeah, I’m sure he could have included those who were convicted of violent crimes, but this is still major progress given how retrograde Kentucky has been on voting rights. And Beshear is good at going out and getting people to vote, so I am hoping his administration will be aggressive in registering these newly enfranchised voters. So good news out of Kentucky.