Teachers face tough decision when deciding to run for office

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OKLAHOMA CITY - With an increase in educators running for seats in the Legislature this November, many of those teachers are faced with a tough decision. A line in the State Constitution makes it harder for them to head back to the classroom after serving their term in office.

"There is some real enthusiasm, obviously, with the Education Caucus that’s moving forward in the general election,"  former teacher and current Oklahoma Senate candidate Carri Hicks said.

Currently, there are more than 60 candidates on the November ballot with ties to education.

After the walkouts in April, the state saw a flood of educators file to run for office. Thanks to an article in the Oklahoma State Constitution, if those candidates win, they won't be able to go directly back into the classroom.

"As a school teacher, as a state employee, I wouldn’t be able to return to the classroom for two years after the election results come in, if I'm elected," said Hicks.

The verbiage in question is found in Article 5, Section 23. The constitution talks about it being illegal to be employed by the state while in office or "double dipping," but it also talks about not being able to work for the state for two years after getting out of office. It's called a "cooling-off period."

"I think the intentions were good in trying to really make sure that you weren't trying to create your own role within state government," said Hicks.

The candidate for State Senate in District 40 thinks exceptions need to be made for educators.

"The way that it affects school teachers could be detrimental. Obviously, when we are in the face of a crisis and needing qualified and certified professionals in the classroom, we are classified as state employees when it's beneficial to the state, but the truth of the matter, we are actually employed by local school districts," she said.

Hicks says she knew about the article in constitution before she filed to run.

"If we are going to create meaningful policy that gets at the heart of the issues in the classroom, then you need a teacher there.  If this is what it takes, then that’s what I'm gonna do. That’s what I'm willing to risk," said Hicks.

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