“I ran to make education an issue,” said Mallard, whose campaign logo includes the silhouette of an apple.
“In the classroom, teachers see the failed policies of Richmond and D. play out every day.” Driven by distaste for federal education policy and dismayed by the actions of state legislatures, teachers are running for office in unprecedented numbers, union officials said.
From Maine to Hawaii, about 170 teachers, former teachers and other school workers — including school psychologists, principals and teacher’s aides — are running for seats in state legislatures, according to tallies by teacher unions and the Badass Teachers Association, a grass-roots education organization.
They include Christine Marsh, the 2016 Arizona Teacher of the Year who wants to battle an expansion of private-school vouchers in that state, and Jack Reavis, a high school history teacher in Muskogee, Okla., whose dilapidated classroom floods when it rains.
“I’m a public-school educator, and I think we can do better in public schools by getting government out,” Tate said.
Activism among educators is hardly new, but this year it appears to have reached new heights, with teachers energized by movements that drew them out of the classrooms and out of retirement to their state capitols.
And Trump’s suggestion to arm teachers to guard against school shooters has angered many.
She believes the federal government and the courts have overstepped their bounds in the classroom, with moves such as banning prayer in public schools and mandating racial integration.
One recent afternoon, reading teacher Karen Mallard settled into a kindergarten classroom at Greenbrier Primary School in Chesapeake, Va., as young readers worked through a book about pets.
Then, she headed home to brush up on Iran nuclear policy.
In several deep-red states, educators who protested budget cuts, low teacher pay and pension changes are challenging lawmakers at the ballot box, following through on vows to oust them from office.
Teachers on both sides of the aisle are taking up the mantle, with some Republican educators campaigning on pledges to increase education spending and to slow the expansion of charter schools.