Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) on Tuesday criticized a number of school districts across his state for canceling classes this week due to harsh winter weather, saying America is “getting soft.”
"There's no ice going with it, or any snow," Bevin said of the freezing weather during an appearance on 840 WHAS Radio's Terry Meiners Show. "I mean, what happens to America? We're getting soft, Terry. We're getting soft."
The Kentucky Republican walked backed some of his criticism later in the interview, saying he was being "slightly facetious” and that “it’s better to err on the side of being safe.”
He then expressed concern about the precedent situations like these could be setting for the youth.
"It does concern me a little bit that, in America, on this and many other fronts, we're sending messages to our young people that if life is hard, you can curl up in the fetal position somewhere in a warm place and just wait until it stops being hard,” he said.
“And that just isn't reality. It isn't," Bevin continued.
Bevin’s comments prompted swift criticism from educators.
Jessica Dueñas, who won the 2019 “Teacher of the Year” in Kentucky, took to Twitter on Tuesday night to blast the governor over the remarks and issued a “personal challenge” to Bevin to “stand outside for 30 minutes as if you were waiting for the bus, dressed as one of our students would be.”
“Because I guarantee you most of our students are not wearing some fancy Patagonia or North Face jackets,” she continued.
“How about you give one of our students your jackets, and you stand outside in that cold, since you’re being so ‘hard?’ ” she added.
Another educator, Tiffany Dunn, also lashed out at the governor on Twitter, saying “these elitist comments don’t shock me anymore, but they’re still appalling.”
“I’m thankful for our school systems taking student safety so seriously,” she continued. “We have to remember the safety of EVERY child - not just those who have the means to dress warmly in this type of weather.”
The Kentucky Education Association tweeted that it also supports decisions to keep children home as the Midwest braces for a blast of arctic air anticipated from the polar vortex.
“We will always support decisions made for the health & safety of Kentucky’s children,” the union tweeted. “Always.”