Early one morning, the week before Betsy DeVos' confirmation as education secretary, 23-year-old Allison Kruk was dropping her boyfriend off at the Philadelphia airport when she decided to swing by the office of her United States senator and give him a piece of her mind.
Kruk was a Hillary Clinton supporter, and the nomination of DeVos, "just felt like a low blow," she says. "I had been calling and emailing and writing letters about how I thought she was incredibly incompetent, regardless of your position on school choice."
Kruk spent two and a half hours in the office of Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., before she was finally escorted out by security, but not without an official audience scheduled on the Monday before the vote.
Over the weekend, she collected 11,000 signatures on a petition from educators all over the state, plus letters from parents and teachers, all of which she hand-delivered.
When Toomey nevertheless cast his vote for DeVos, Kruk's reaction was immediate: She decided to run for school board.
By all accounts, the election has sparked a surge of political interest among young Democrats and progressives. Similar upwellings have happened after other presidential campaigns, such as the Tea Party movement's surge after Barack Obama's election in 2008.
"Since Betsy DeVos' confirmation, we've had a flood of people come and say specifically, 'I want to run for school board to protect the schools in my hometown,' " says Amanda Litman, co-founder of Run for Something, a newly launched progressive political action committee dedicated to drafting Millennials for down-ballot races from state legislatures on down. Run for Something offers advice, introductions and, for some candidates, help with fundraising.
NPR Ed spoke with four young first-time school board candidates from around the country.