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How Many Teachers Ran for Office in 2018?

Even before the election, pundits were calling 2018 “the year of the teacher.” 

The Christian Science Monitor and the Associated Press both said an unprecedented number of educators sought political office this year. “The teacher strikes pushed a record number of educators to run for office,” wrote Vox, in an article noting that “more than 1,000 teachers will be on the ballots across the country.”

A few days before that, Al Jazeera reported that 1,450 educators would be vying for state legislative seats, though it noted that many of them weren’t actively working in education. On Friday, USA Today packed all the main points in a single headline: “‘We’re Just Fed Up’: Teachers Running for Office in Record Numbers, Motivated by Low Pay and Education Cuts.”

These claims of a historic trend were sparked by a memo issued last month by the National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers’ union. In it, Carrie Pugh, the organization’s senior political director, cited “available state campaign data” in claiming that an unprecedented 1,800 educators sought seats in state legislatures this year.

The numbers were broadly similar to those from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, a group that works to elect Democrats to state legislatures, which concluded that 1,456 educators ran for office this year.