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Teachers are running for election in record numbers this year

By Clyde Hughes
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 25, 2016. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/c7b18fac443c0601c2c53f456d97385e/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 25, 2016. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 2 (UPI) -- Teachers in the United States are running for public office in historic numbers this year, with nearly 1,500 on the ballot nationwide.

The National Education Association said educators represent one in four in races this year. Most, 70 percent, are running as Democrats -- and 30 percent, Republicans.

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"Americans have always looked to schools to fix social problems," Campbell Scribner, a University of Maryland education historian, told USA Today. "So teachers are in a unique position to win because people care about schools."

In Oklahoma, where teachers walked out in the spring to demand better pay, nearly 60 teachers are up for public office.

RELATED Teachers in Arizona, Colorado walk out for more school money

"I'm always telling my students that to change things, they've gotta join the revolution," said Tulsa teacher Craig Hoxie, who's running for a House seat against GOP incumbent Terry O'Donnell. "And then I was like, 'Well, I guess I've gotta lead it.'"

The NEA said the 1,455 educators running for office this year include current and former teachers and educators at all levels, along with administrative and support staff. Most of the candidates are women.

"The people who are going out canvassing are mostly teachers and education professionals," Paula Setser-Kissick, a Kentucky teacher running for a state Senate seat, told the Huffington Post in September. "The bulk of it right now is teachers.

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"I believe we're going to be a force in November."

Activism among teachers appears to be an outgrowth of protests and walkouts that happened across the United States this past spring. Oklahoma teachers walked out for nine days in April to demand pay raises and more resources for the classroom.

West Virginia teachers received a 5 percent pay raise after striking for nine days, and many walked out in Kentucky after state lawmakers modified the state's pension plan. Teachers followed suit in Arizona and Colorado, which forced school districts to close.

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