Educators across the country flocked to the polls on Tuesday to cast their votes for candidates who will have the power to shape K-12 policy over the next few years, from the congressional level down to governorships and local school boards.

And while issues like the economy and abortion have dominated many 2022 campaigns, they sometimes squeezed out attention to matters that more directly affect educators’ day-to-day jobs like teacher shortages, declines in academic achievement, and low pay.

“There hasn’t been as much talk about [education] as there needs to be, which means everything is at stake,” said Ashley Penney, a middle school social studies teacher in Texas, who voted Tuesday afternoon. “If you’re going to sit here and demean something that everybody decided during the pandemic was a must-have institution, and you’re going to continue to underfund it … and you’re not going to pay people appropriately, we’re going to hit a tipping point.”