It’s election season. As it currently stands, Republicans control every single part of the government. The President, House, and Senate are Republican-held. The recent appointment of Brett Kavanaugh ensures that the Supreme Court will have a conservative majority for at least the next few years, meaning that all branches of the government are right leaning.
Given the unpopularity of the Trump administration among liberals, this November progressives are gearing up to take back Congress and teachers are coming out in droves to help them.
Hundreds of educators are running for office. According to the National Education Association over 550 educators have made their way on to ballots. Of that number 512 of them are Democrats and 42 of them are Republicans. This is key because according to an analysis by Education Week, the teachers are not just running… they are in fact winning. Their early success has led to speculation of a teacher-led “Blue Wave” this November.
Teachers, like any other group, are not a monolith. There is no singular reason or cause that explains the surge in teacher candidates. It varies from state to state specifically, but school funding, teacher pay, and retirement benefits seem to be the most common rallying cry behind the candidates. These are some of the same issues that led to rolling walkouts earlier this year.
Although most of the educators running are self-identified liberals, there are a few republican educators making noise as well. Earlier this year, the Kentucky House Majority Floor Leader, Jonathan Shell, was defeated in the GOP primary by high school math teacher Travis Brenda. Brenda is no liberal in GOP clothing. He’s pro-life and pro-2nd amendment as you would expect from any Kentucky Republican, but he was against Kentucky’s controversial pension reform which his primary opponent helped spearhead.
If Travis Brenda used teacher-based issues to beat a rising GOP star in a rural Kentucky primary, one can only speculate the potential success his left-leaning colleagues could see in blue or purple areas. As of Monday morning, 538’s Congress forecast gave Democrats only a 19% chance to win control of the Senate but a promising 81% chance to win control of the house. Many of this year’s teacher candidates are running for state offices, and thus not captured by that data point, but political trends tend to be like the weather. Favorable forecasts and results for issues in one place do tend to trickle down to others. So, if what we have seen so far is any indication, Democrats and education-minded republicans are poised to see some success in November and they will owe a large part of that success too teachers.