Gov. Beshear addresses inequalities in health care, public education and law enforcement training

Gov. Andy Beshear talked on Monday about the efforts his administration will be taking to create equality and to start addressing some of the systemic inequalities that are existing in the state’s health care system, law enforcement training and in public education during his press conference.

GLASGOW – Gov. Andy Beshear announced during his press conference Monday that the Kentucky State Police and the Kentucky National Guard are no longer stationed in Louisville.

But the calls for justice continue and he said everyone needs to listen.

He then talked about the efforts his administration will be taking to create equality and to start addressing some of the systemic inequalities that are existing in the state’s health care system, law enforcement training and in public education.

The governor began by talking about the state’s health care system. He said the inequalities that exist there have been exposed by the COVID-19 epidemic.

“By allowing this type of inequality to exist for as long as it has, we see African-Americans dying at twice the rate that they make up the population, and it simply can’t be allowed to continue any longer,” Beshear said. “It shouldn’t have taken this type of pandemic or it shouldn’t have taken these types of demonstrations for us to commit to ending it.”

He continued that it will take a number of steps — coverage, access and equality.

On Monday, the governor made a commitment to access.

“I believe health care is a basic human right,” he said. “My commitment today is we are going to begin an effort to cover 100 percent of our individuals in our black and African-American communities — everybody. We are going to be putting dollars behind it. We are going to have a multi-faceted campaign to do it. This is just the first commitment in making up for that inequality that Dr. King said was one of the most severe and that’s inequality in health care.”

The governor continued that he eventually wanted to make sure there was coverage for all Kentuckians, but said this is the time and he is going to make it happen.

He then asked Michael Brown, secretary of the governor’s executive cabinet, to talk about the commitment to law enforcement and law enforcement training.

Due to the pandemic, the state had to suspend its cadet classes from its Criminal Justice Training, as well as in-service training for law enforcement officers.

“Kentucky has one of the highest requirements in the country for officer training and it has served us very well. We have had to suspend that, but as we open up other parts of government and other parts of responding we are going to get back to that training,” he said.

While he doesn’t anticipate law enforcement officers statewide to receive 40 hours of in-service training this calendar year, he said the state is committed to getting them at least eight hours of training during the remainder of the calendar year.

“We are going to focus on some very specific topics and also some very timely topics,” he said.

Those topics are: implicit bias, use of force, Civil Rights Laws (1983 actions), ethics/accountability, emotional intelligence and community relationships.

In talking about use of force, Brown said sometimes use of force has been marginalized into more or less how law enforcement officers should do it.

“We are going to focus more on the when and the why and the what. That’s going to include both deadly and also the force that can turn deadly,” he said.

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, who is also secretary of the Cabinet of Education and Workforce Development, addressed inequalities in education, as far as results and a lack of educators who look like their students.

“As we have seen over the last few weeks, our society has been crying out for change,” she said. “Let me be clear, public education was made to meet this moment.

Last week, Coleman proposed three immediate changes at the Kentucky Board of Education meeting. They were: appoint a non-voting member to the board who is a student; implement statewide implicit bias training for all school faculty and staff; and develop new strategies and programs to recruit more people of color into the teaching field.

“For many of our kids, the first leaders outside their homes are their teachers. Kentucky’s kids of color deserve to see themselves reflected in their community leaders and all of our children are better prepared for their future when exposed to a diverse community of leaders and teachers,” she said.

She continued that end-of-the-year test scores are higher for black students who have teachers who look like them.

“Black students who have just one black teacher by the time they are in the third grade are 13 percent more likely to go to college,” Coleman said. “If they are two then they are 32 percent more likely to go to college.”

To accomplish those goals, the lieutenant governor said the state will be working with higher education systems, especially the state’s historical black colleges and universities, to recruit “tomorrow’s nation’s builders.”

The Kentucky Department of Education has already begun that work and will continue to leverage programs to find a diverse group of young people who aspire to transform their community through teaching, she said.

In giving his COVID-19 update, the governor gave statistics for both Sunday and Monday.

The number of new cases reported for Sunday is 70, while the number of new cases reported for Monday is 120. The total number of positive cases of the coronavirus statewide is 11,476.

The governor also reported one death each for Sunday and Monday.

The number of positive cases reported by the Barren River District Health Department for the counties it serves are: Warren, 1,142; Simpson, 52; Metcalfe, 7; Logan, 175; Hart, 31; Edmonson, 65; Butler, 234; and Barren, 49.

The number of deaths for each of the counties served by the district health department are: Barren, 1; Butler, 13; Edmonson, 12; Hart, 0; Logan, 6; Metcalfe, 2; Simpson, 3; and Warren, 7.

Officials with the Allen County Health Department reported five new positive cases of the coronavirus on Monday, making the total number of cases reported for Allen County to be 116. The county has also had four deaths as a result of COVID-19, said an Allen County Health Department press release.

The Monroe County Health Department issued a press release on Sunday, reporting two additional confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases for the county to 27.

Recommended for you