WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- The massive wave of teacher walkouts have caused an ‘unprecedented’ number of educators to run for office to change the government from the inside.
- The protests were caused by the gradual disinvestment in public schools over the years.
- The teacher unions believe that their member-candidates are ‘going to be a force in November.’
The massive wave of teacher walkouts in red states across the country earlier this year have made educators feel the need to change the government from the inside — by running for state office.
One of the country’s top teacher unions said a total of 554 educators will run for state house and senate seats this year — 512 running as Democrats and 42 as Republicans. The tally includes current and retired teachers, support staff, and administrators in K-12 schools across the country.
The tally from the National Education Association (NEA) included members of its own affiliates and those of the other main teacher union, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
An NEA spokesman admitted that the sum would be hard to compare to previous years since this was the first time they tracked the number of educators running for state office, but the union believes the 554 figure is “unprecedented.”
NEA’s president, Lily Eskelsen García, declared, “What we are witnessing is not a moment but a movement by educators running for office to fight for the public schools our students deserve.”
The AFT also tracked the number of its member-candidates this year, which is now nearly 300. While most are running for state seats, some are running for boards of education and other local positions.
Randi Weingarten, AFT’s president, explained, “Teachers want a political voice to secure a safe and welcoming environment for their kids. [T]hey also want to reverse the logic of economic austerity that has made crumbling classrooms and torn textbooks the norm.”
The teacher walkouts started in West Virginia last February, when schools in all 55 counties were closed for nine school days as teachers and support staff protested against stagnant pay, rising health care costs, and dwindling funds for classrooms. Legislators were forced to pass a five percent pay raise for school employees and state workers.
Similar walkouts happened in Arizona, Kentucky, and Oklahoma, where teachers closed schools and flooded state capitols.
While each situation was different, the ultimate issue was the gradual disinvestment in public schools over the years.
Paula Setser-Kissick, a technology resource teacher for Fayette County Public Schools in Lexington, will be running for office as a Democrat for Senate district 12 in Kentucky, which is occupied by a Republican.
Setser-Kissick told HuffPost that she believes teachers like herself are “going to be a force in November.”
She also recounted how a Kentucky high school math teacher defeated the Republican house floor leader in a major primary upset in May, noting, “Not only did a teacher win and defeat somebody in leadership, he did it with almost no money.”
Source: Huff Post