Teacher activists said over and over again during this spring’s strikes known as #RedforEd that they’ll “remember in November” when the midterm elections come around.
It looks like West Virginia’s teachers notched an early political victory during Tuesday night’s primary when they helped Republican candidate for state Senate Bill Hamilton defeat incumbent Republican state Sen. Robert Karnes, who they accused of saying some “nasty” things about teachers during their nine-day strike and introducing bills that didn’t have teachers’ best interest in mind.
Hamilton, currently a state representative, has a “free spirit and doesn’t seem to be party bound,” said Kym Randolph, a spokeswoman for West Virginia’s Education Association. “We realize there are different degrees in the severity of fiscal conservatism here. Sometimes your moderate Republican is a good choice.”
The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association are hoping to ride a groundswell of political momentum in this year’s state races after a series of walkouts, strikes, and protests in Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma, West Virginia.
At least 100 teachers in Kentucky and Oklahoma have filed to run for office, union leaders in those states say. And the National Education Association next week will hold a training forum for several dozen teachers across the nation who have put their hats in the ring for elected office.
“There’s an understanding that walkouts need to move to walk-ins to the ballot box,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Teachers are putting themselves out there to run on the values of getting their families and communities a better life. That sort of activism is inspiring.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.