Retired educator runs on education issues, wins stunning victory in OK state legislature

by Marit Vike; image courtesy of James Johnson

Karen Gaddis retired from teaching in 2011. Over her 40-year teaching career, she taught classes ranging from seventh-grade math to AP calculus.

But for Gaddis, there was one thing that just didn’t add up: How the state legislature could short public education funding year after year while handing out tax breaks to corporate giants in the gas and oil industries.

Many of Oklahoma’s school districts have shifted to four-day school weeks and have unprecedented numbers of emergency-certified teachers. Oklahoma ranks 49th in the nation in teacher pay, and educators have left in droves for positions in other states.

Karen Gaddis couldn’t find a candidate to vote for who was willing to work on these problems. So she stepped up and ran for office to give educators a voice in the legislature. EdVotes caught up with her shortly after she was sworn into office.

EdVotes: What prompted you to get involved with politics?