Taxpayers need to understand impact of changes in state health

September 23, 2004

Dear Editor:

I am responding to a letter that addressed a potential strike by Kentucky teachers.

My husband has been a teacher for many years - first at Boyle County High School and presently at Mercer County High School. I believe teaching is a calling and certainly not everyone could do this job, but it is also a career. As in any career, the person is not only doing it for the satisfaction but also to be able to provide for his family.

I am very aware of the dedication to education that is needed from teachers. I know this because of the children who have graduated that have stayed in touch with my husband over the years. I also know that my children and I have gone to numerous stores and been asked if "Coach Bredar" was my husband and their father and after we reply, "yes," they tell us how much they loved his classes.


Gov. Ernie Fletcher is not only taking away the options that teachers and state employees had over which insurance company to take, he is also raising the rates dramatically. The coverage is not as good, and we are asked to pay large deductibles, higher prescription amounts, etc. Teachers did receive a small raise this year but this will not cover most families' increase in cost for insurance. Now, they will be making less money than last year and are expected to take it in stride. Our family alone will have an increase of several hundred dollars per month for less coverage.

I would hope each taxpayer would understand the impact this has on all teachers and state employees. These teachers could go to any surrounding state and have higher pay and better benefits. Has anyone considered what our school systems would be like if teachers went to find better employment opportunities outside of Kentucky? There are very few teachers looking for jobs due to the low pay. When there is an opening many schools are having only one applicant or none at all. These vacancies are filled with people who are not qualified.

If this is really about education and the children? Do we not want the very best teachers that we can hire for our schools? These children are our future. I certainly know I want my children to have qualified teachers who care. This cannot happen if these teachers are dissatisfied in how they are treated by the state of Kentucky. Teaching is not a very high paying profession, and they deserve to have their benefits kept at a reasonable amount.

North Carolina pays the least amount of any state toward their teacher's insurance ($285 a month). Kentucky pays $286. Indiana pays over $800. Tennessee pays over $700. Those are only a few examples.

If Mr. Fletcher cares so very much about education and the children of Kentucky, why did he have the phrase "Education Pays" removed from all government stationary, envelopes, etc.? I think that in itself should speak volumes to the voters and taxpayers of Kentucky.

Radonna Bredar


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