14 News Special Report: Classroom to Campaign

14 News Special Report: Classroom to Campaign

WESTERN KENTUCKY (WFIE) - We have heard from teachers across Kentucky, they say they've had it with the state.

They've rallied. They've lobbied. They've called and emailed their local legislators.

But in their opinion, none of that has worked. So, some of them, are ready to take on Frankfort themselves.

"We knew it was bad," Joy Gray, a former teacher now running for the Kentucky House of Representatives, said. "So we started having rallies, we started asking questions."

Those rallies turned into an all out battle over the pension and budget for education.

"You have got to take a stand," Gray said. "And that's what the teachers are doing. They're taking a stand. They said we've had it!"

But many won't give up.

More than 45 educators across the commonwealth are taking their crusade to the next level, by running for office.

Joy Gray, Dianne Burns Mackey, and Crystal Chappell, three Kentucky educators are all running for office.

Their common goal,they say, is their students.

"Education is the future of our state," Gray said.

"People in the state actually have more to do with what goes on in education than even the school board or the teachers," Burns Mackey said.

"There's lots of reasons I chose to run, my students are at the center of that," Chappell

Crystal Chappell has been a special education teacher at Muhlenberg South Middle School for 16 years.

"I've got smaller class sizes," Chappell said. "So it's only a few students at a time that I'm able to impact. And I feel like that's really necessary. And I love my job. I just, I feel like I can do more."

And she already does. Balancing her profession with her passion for politics. If she's elected, that balancing act will become even more challenging.

She will have to take several weeks off every year to represent her district in Frankfort, for this part time job.

"It will cut into my retirement, but I feel like in the long run that sacrifice in necessary," Chappell explained. "I don't wanna sit back any longer and not take a stand."

Politics is nothing new for Dianne Burns Mackey. She served on the Daviess County School Board for eight years and unsuccessfully ran for House of Representatives in 2014.

She questions if law makers know why teachers do what they do.

"That's the whole idea behind being an educator, is how successful your students can be," Mackey said "And I don't know if the state realizes why we go into that profession.

"This is nothing I thought I would do," Gray said "But I can't sit back anymore and say whatever."

Gray taught just about every grade imaginable. When education funding and teacher's pension started taking fire in Frankfort, she knew she had to step up and make change happen herself.

"Everything that happens in a classroom is legislated," explained Gray. "It is decided by someone that is elected or appointed by someone that's elected. So if you truly want to make a change to education, you have to go to Frankfort."

While more and more teachers are running for office across Kentucky, all three women agree that teachers can and will make the changes they believe are needed.

"That's all we care about is wanting these children to be successful," Mackey said.

"I feel like good things are gonna happen this fall," Chappell stated.

"We have a commonwealth," Gray said. "And we wanna work for the common good."

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