120 Strong members - ready to cheer, jeer at 2019 Fancy Farm Picnic.
(Fancy Farm Picnic August 3, 2019) 120 Strong got their front row seats again this year at the 2019 Fancy Farm Picnic.
The group, organized less than two years ago, is best known for their pension advocacy. When Governor Bevin began proposing changes to the pension system for both current and future retirees, teachers and advocates for education employees began driving to Frankfort. They attended committee meetings, spoke to legislators, wrote letters and organized.
At Fancy Farm, several recalled that teachers went to Frankfort from all over the state, 120 counties. They met in the Capital City and asked what can we do? The answer was to form a nonpartisan coalition to advocate for education issues.
While the pension reform fight was the precipitating issue, there are others: lack of textbook funding, professional development, KTIP (Kentucky Teacher Internship Program) training for first year teacher training remain unfunded or underfunded. Charter schools also raises their blood pressures.
The most recent special session that affects quasi governmental agencies is bringing other government employees into 120 Strong's advocacy spotlight.
While 120 members in the distinctive black t-shirts sat on the Democratic side of the Picnic Pavilion, several we talked to are registered Republicans. Governor Bevin attracted their wrath with comments about teachers including calling them unconscious drowning victims needing to be dragged to shore, blaming them for child abuse while they were advocating in Frankfort and calling them thugs.
Several 120 Strong members said they had already walked door to door for Democratic candidate Andy Beshear. From the Democratic hats, signs and buttons, 120 Strong's choice in November is clear. They are all in for Attorney General Andy Beshear who they say supported them in the pension fight, opposes charter schools and chose an educator, Jacqueline Coleman, as a running mate.
For 120 Strong members the governor's race is personal.