Teaching Profession

National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes Is Running for Congress

By Sarah Schwartz — July 17, 2018 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

When Jahana Hayes, the 2016 National Teacher of Year, decided to run for office, she was thinking about her students.

She wondered: “Who will speak for them? Who will share their story with the world?,” she explains in a campaign video released Thursday.

“Teachers are nation-builders,” she says. “That’s our job: To effect change, to improve outcomes. Isn’t that the same job of Congress?”

Hayes is running as a Democratic candidate for an open seat in Connecticut’s fifth district. A former history teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury, Conn., she is now the talent and professional-development supervisor for the Waterbury public schools. Hayes will face off against Mary Glassman, a former town selectwoman who won the state Democratic party’s endorsement last month, in the Democratic primary on Aug. 14.

If Hayes is elected in November, she’ll be the first black woman to represent Connecticut in Congress. This is her first bid for elective office.

This year, in the wake of teacher strikes and protests, dozens of teachers have filed to run for office across the country. As my colleague Madeline Will reported, educators in states that saw teacher activism this spring are looking to harness that momentum and launch campaigns for state seats.

But Hayes—who is running in a state that hasn’t see large-scale teacher labor actions recently—is also part of another wave: A record number of women are running for House seats this year, with the greatest gains coming from Democratic women.

‘I’m a Fighter’

People from her neighborhood “aren’t supposed to run for Congress,” said Hayes, in her campaign video. Hayes grew up in a housing project in Waterbury and became a mother while still in high school. Her own mother struggled with addiction during Hayes’ childhood.

Facing and overcoming these obstacles have prepared her to be a fierce representative for her community, said Hayes.

“I’m a fighter,” Hayes told the Hartford Courant. “Time and time again, I have had doors shut in my face and have had to walk around and knock on the back door.’'

Education issues are front and center in Hayes’ policy platform. “Education saved my life, and I will ensure that all children from all communities have access to a high-quality education,” she writes on her campaign website.

Her platform calls for more resources and support for teachers, affordable college, and access to career training for students. She also supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, single-payer healthcare, gun control, environmental protection, and initiatives to combat racial discrimination and injustice.

Hayes has been endorsed by the Connecticut chapter of the American Federation of Teachers and by U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who is widely rumored to be making a 2020 presidential bid.

Watch Hayes’ campaign video below.



Glassman, the other Democratic candidate, has also focused on education in her platform. She has pledged to advocate for more funding for quality preschool programs, combat student loan debt, and implement cooperative purchasing across school districts.

Photo: The 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes, left, pumps her fist in the air as she is acknowledged by President Barack Obama during a ceremony honoring her in 2016 at the White House. —Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP-File.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession We Feel Your Grief: Remembering the 1,000 Plus Educators Who've Died of COVID-19
The heartbreaking tally of lives lost to the coronavirus continues to rise and take a steep toll on school communities.
3 min read
090321 1000 Educators Lost BS
Education Week
Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor Educators Have a Responsibility to Support the Common Good
A science teacher responds to another science teacher's hesitation to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
1 min read
Teaching Profession With Vaccine Mandates on the Rise, Some Teachers May Face Discipline
With a vaccine now fully FDA-approved, more states and districts will likely require school staff get vaccinated. The logistics are tricky.
9 min read
Grace John, who works at a school in San Lorenzo, gets a COVID-19 shot at a mobile vaccination clinic run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state in Hayward, Calif., on Feb. 19, 2021. California will become the first state in the nation to require all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. The statewide vaccine mandate for K-12 educators comes as schools return from summer break amid growing concerns of the highly contagious delta variant.
Grace John, who works at a school in San Lorenzo, gets a COVID-19 shot at a mobile vaccination clinic in Hayward, Calif. California is among those states requiring all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.
Terry Chea/AP
Teaching Profession In Their Own Words Why This Science Teacher Doesn't Want the COVID Vaccine
Contrary to public health guidance, Davis Eidahl, an Iowa high school teacher, has no plans to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
4 min read
Davis Eidahl, a science teacher at Pekin High School in Packwood, Iowa, says he doesn't want to get the COVID-19 vaccine. He thinks social distancing and occasional masking will be sufficient to keep himself and others safe.
Davis Eidahl, a science teacher at Pekin High School in Packwood, Iowa, says he doesn't want to get the COVID-19 vaccine. He thinks social distancing and occasional masking will be sufficient to keep himself and others safe.
Rachel Mummey for Education Week