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Thousands rally for Kentucky schools, 1988

Posted on April 3, 2018 | in Uncategorized | by

An exuberant crowd of 15,000 to 20,000 education supporters marched on the Capitol March 17, 1988, lashing out at Gov. Wallace Wilkinson and demanding more money for Kentucky schools. The crowd, which overwhelmed legislators and exceeded everyone’s expectations, was thought to be the largest ever to demonstrate in Frankfort. City police Capt. Lawrence Hoover, in charge of crowd control, said his estimate of 15,000 to 20,000 was conservative. Classes were called off in about half of Kentucky’s school districts so teachers could come to Frankfort. As marchers circled the Capitol, Wilkinson stayed in his office but Lt. Gov. Brereton Jones spoke to the crowd. Wilkinson had prepared a speech for the rally but delivered it instead to reporters. At the news conference, he said that education was his No. 1 priority and that he was being blamed for a financial crisis not of his making. A special session of the Kentucky legislature was called in November of that year in which the lottery bill was passed and money from it was earmarked for education. On April 2, 2018, thousands of public school teachers again marched on the Capitol, but this time in protest to changes to their pensions and education cuts. Photo by Charles Bertram | staff

Teachers, school administrators, parents and others walked around the Capitol March 17, 1988 waving colorful signs as marching music blared from speakers. Through all of it, Gov. Wallace Wilkinson was the target of the crowd’s ire. Some of the signs the teachers carried expressed their frustration with Wilkinson, who had proposed an austere budget and no new taxes. Among them were placards that said: “If you can’t read this, thank Wally,” “We voted for you, now do for us,” “Can Kentucky education afford Wally’s World?” and “Arizona did it, we can do it: Impeach.” Two men walking side by side carried a joint message. One sign said, “Send Wally to college.” The other said, “In another state.” Click here to see how big the ‘We’ve had enough’ teacher protest from April 2, 2018 was. Photo by Charles Bertram | staff

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