At least four Kentucky school districts were forced to close last Thursday as hundreds of teachers called in sick to continue protesting what they believe to be anti-public education proposals in the state legislature.
It was the third time in a week some districts were forced to cancel classes because of too many teacher absences. And it was the second closure in a row for Jefferson County Public Schools, the state’s largest district and one of the biggest in the country with more than 98,000 students.
Last week’s action comes one year after teacher uprisings in at least five states, part of a movement advocating for better pay, more education funding and protections for traditional pension benefits. This year, teachers have gone on strike in Los Angeles, Denver, and Oakland, Calif. And in West Virginia, an upcoming special legislative session on education has teachers worried.
In Kentucky, teachers don’t strike but they coordinate to all use their sick days on the same day, forcing districts to close because they don’t have enough substitutes to cover classes. Hundreds of teachers wearing red shirts clogged the stairs leading to the House chamber, chanting so loudly they disrupted hearings before the state supreme court.
A version of this article appeared in the March 13, 2019 edition of Education Week as Kentucky Districts Close Amid Wave of Teacher Absences