Principals now joining teachers in pursuit of elected office
- Like teachers, principals unsatisfied with the education policy status quo are running for elected office in droves, Education Week reports.
- While teachers have the benefit of support from unions like the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers, principals' unions aren't as frequently involved in politics — though issues like the outcome of Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 31 and ongoing teacher protests have inspired principals to take action, the paper reports.
- Beyond education policy, principals have cited a lack of government transparency, criminal justice reform, affordable healthcare and the opioid epidemic as issues that prompted their entries into the political fray.
Educators at all levels increasingly becoming involved in politics follows a decade of budget cuts in the wake of the 2008 recession, with many states still funding schools below pre-recession levels and spending on corrections outpacing education. Additionally, since at least the No Child Left Behind era, educators frequently felt vilified at the hands of policymakers — so much so that former education secretary John King felt the need to apologize to teachers in his first speech in that role back in 2016.
In a way, running for office allows these educators to make the ultimate civics education demonstration to students. In a government conceptualized around elected representation by the people and for the people, the opportunity for those who want change is always there should they be able to persuade a large enough swath of the electorate to back their platform. That change often requires playing the long game and working over time to build constituencies that empower it, but that, too, is a lesson for civics and life.
If educators at all levels find that accounts of their firsthand experiences aren't enough to convince existing elected officials to bring about change, working to replace those officials themselves is ultimately the most expedient option — should they be successful.
- Education Week Principals Are Running for Elected Office. Here's Why
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