Kentucky teachers rally in 'day of action' at state Capitol

Teacher Karen Schwartz stands outside House chambers Friday as educators gather in Frankfort.

(CNN)Inspired by her special needs students, Leslie Busch joined her fellow teachers Friday at the state Capitol in Frankfort in what the Kentucky Education Association called "a day of action."

If public education doesn't get additional funding, Busch said, more families will turn to charter and private schools, some of which won't accept students with special needs or will make them pay more to attend.
"That's unfair," Busch told CNN. "I am adamant about giving my students a fair chance to be a working member of society when they grow up."
Dozens of public school districts throughout Kentucky canceled Friday's classes to allow teachers and school personnel to attend the Capitol rally, according to CNN affiliate WLKY.
    Gov. Matt Bevin, Republican, bemoaned the teacher protest, telling reporters outside the Capitol that school closures put some children at risk.
    "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 governor said, according to CNN affiliate WDRB.
    "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," he continued. "I'm offended by the idea that people so cavalierly and so flippantly disregarded what's truly best for children."
    He also claimed that some children were "introduced to drugs."

    Pensions also in play

    The Kentucky Education Association also strongly opposes a pension reform bill that Bevin signed this week under which new hires will have to enter a hybrid cash-balance plan, as opposed to a traditional pension. It also limits new sick days teachers can put toward their retirement.
    Members of the teachers union also were critical of Bevin's vetoes of budget and revenue bills, both of which the union said are crucial to funding public education.
    Teachers and their supporters protest against  pension legislation earlier this month in Frankfort.
    On Friday night, legislators in the Republican-controlled Senate voted to override the vetoes.
    "We acknowledge neither bill gives the citizens of the Commonwealth everything that our students, their parents and our communities need." the Kentucky Education Association said on Facebook. "However, both bills provide much needed P-12 funding for the next biennium."
    The governor tweeted his disapproval.
    "We have time to do this correctly. The people of Kentucky deserve nothing less. Transparency makes for good policy AND good politics," he wrote. "I have met with House and Senate leaders all week to propose more responsible ways to pay for 100% of the requested education funding. Crickets."

    Some teachers in Oklahoma want to keep fighting

    Teachers in other states also have been pushing for better pay and conditions, inspired in part by a successful strike last month in West Virginia.
    In Oklahoma, the largest teachers union ended a nine-day walkout Thursday, but educators there vow to continue fighti