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NCLB Outrages

Educators Before They Were Lawmakers

Ohanian Comment: NEA searched out members of Congress who identify themselves as "former educators." I searched out how they voted on NCLB. Write these people, urging some to "Stand Firm!" but urging most to "RETHINK!" how their support of NCLB has hurt children and threatens to destroy the teaching profession.

You can read a short article summarizing what the NEA reported at Education Week.

By the way folks at the national NEA have denounced our Educator Roundtable petition to end NCLB. You might want to ask them about that!


by NEA Staff
From the nation's classrooms to the halls of Congress, many of America's top lawmakers began their careers in the education profession. NEA asked members of Congress to reflect on the impact their educator career has had on them. Here's what they had to say.

Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D-N.Y.)
Former educator
Voted Yes.

Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii)
Former teacher and school administrator
Did not vote on NCLB

"Being an educator has complemented my congressional career tremendously. The learning approach of an educator includes a sense of openness versus contentiousness which has helped in creating better working relationships with my colleagues and better decision making."

Rep. Todd W. Akin (R-Mo.)
Former educator
Voted No.

Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.)
Former teacher
Voted Yes.

"Working as a teacher showed me how important access to educational opportunities can be in transforming people's lives. I am committed to helping expand these opportunities, which is why I asked to serve on the committee that oversees education policy when I came to Congress in 1990. On a more personal level, teaching also taught me to be a good listener and gave me the patience and dedication to hard work that continue to motivate me every day."

Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett (R-Md.)
Former professor
Voted No.

"Teachers give their students love for learning. As a student, inspirational teachers encouraged me to become a scientist. As a teacher of college students for 20 years, I hope I inspired some of my students. The skills I learned as an educator I use every day as a member of Congress. These skills include presenting facts clearly and listening and responding to questions in order to advance the understanding of complex topics and the development and adoption of solutions to difficult problems. Education is a journey teachers and students travel together. Teachers lead us toward a brighter future."

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah)
Former educator
Not in Congress in 2001.

Rep. Dan Boren (D-Okla.)
Former education administrator
Not in Congress in 2001.

Rep. Robert A. Brady (D-Pa.)
Former educator
Voted Yes.

Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.)
Former college guidance counselor
Voted Yes.

Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)
Former teacher
Voted Yes.

"Our children represent the hope and promise of our country, and I deeply respect the role educators play in their communities."

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.)
Former educator
Voted Yes.

Rep. Virginia Brown-Waite (R-Fla.)
Former professor
Not in Congress in 2001.

Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.)
Former school nurse
Voted Yes.

"Being an educator was a powerful experience in my life. It was more than a job; it was a calling that I was honored to follow. I loved working in the Santa Barbara public schools for 20 years, and that experience made me a better representative by providing insight into the challenges our schools face. I still enjoy spending time on campuses and in classrooms whenever possible so I can maintain that important connection with today's students and educators."

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.)
Former professor
Not in Congress in 2001.

Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.)
Former education consultant
Not in Congress in 2001.


Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.)
Former teacher
Voted Yes.

"The availability of public education has been one of the greatest concepts implemented by our democracy, and teaching is the noblest of all professions. Being a teacher has provided me with the opportunity to experience a lifetime of learning which is absolutely essential in my role as a member of Congress. Every week should be [American] Education Week."

Sen. Mark Dayton (D-Minn.)
Former teacher
Voted No.

"For my first job out of college, I taught ninth-grade general science at P.S. 65 in New York City, from 1969 to 1971. I have always said that it was the toughest job I ever had. My students taught me much more than I taught them! The experience left me with profound respect for the tremendous work that dedicated teachers perform all across our country, for which they receive too little pay and too little appreciation."

Rep. Vernon J. Ehlers (R-Mich.)
Former professor
Voted Yes.

"Teaching has made me a better learner, has enriched my life immeasurably, and has made me a better congressman. Through teaching, I learned the art of expressing complex issues in basic terms to enhance the public's understanding."

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.)
Former guidance counselor and educator
Voted Yes.

Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-N.C.)
Former superintendent
Voted Yes.

"As the only former state schools chief serving in Congress, I have a unique perspective on how policy decisions at the federal level will play out in North Carolina's classrooms and across the country. My wife is a school nutritionist and two of our children have served as classroom teachers because improving public education for all children is a passion the entire Etheridge family shares."

Rep. Michael Ferguson (R-N.J.)
Former educator
Voted Yes.

Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.)
Former professor
Voted No.

Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest (R-Md.)
Former teacher
Voted No.

Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas)
Former educator

Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas)
Former teacher
Voted Yes.

"While I was an educator, I learned that while most people spend their lives building careers, teachers spend their careers building lives. I have adapted the concept that I learned in the classroom to my elected office service by striving to build a better community and country so each and every citizen might flourish."

Rep. Mark Green (R-Wis.)
Former educator
Voted Yes.

Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.)
Former educator
Voted Yes.

Rep. J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)
Former teacher and coach
Voted Yes.

Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.)
Former teacher and principal
Voted Yes.

"As a former teacher, principal, and school board member, I understand the joys and difficulties of working in education. I believe that the greatest investment we can make as a nation is in education, and it is our teachers that are the core of education. Teachers deserve the highest respect, because day in and day out, they are the ones who are responsible for motivating students, conveying difficult material, and keeping the system going. I believe it is my responsibility, as a legislator, to support legislation that helps teachers by improving conditions in schools, increasing compensation and benefits, and lessening the burden of policy, by making education systems logical, supportive, and unobtrusive.

Rep. Darlene Hooley (D-Ore.)
Former guidance counselor and educator
Voted Yes.

Rep. Sue Kelly (R-N.Y.)
Former teacher
Voted Yes.

"When you stand at the front of a classroom as the teacher and look into the eyes of the young students staring back at you, it leaves an indelible impression on you for the rest of your life about the magnitude and importance of education. Every teacher in our country is a vital leader who impacts the future of every student, and my experiences as an educator certainly helped provide me the firsthand understanding that I need as a legislator to continue improving our schools and putting the needs of students and teachers first."

Rep. Dale E. Kildee (D-Mich.)
Former teacher
Voted Yes.

"Being a classroom teacher gave me special insight into the role a strong public school system plays in shaping our society. Teaching is a service profession, and it was a love of teaching that made my moving into public service and the political arena a natural transition."

Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-Mich.)
Former teacher
Voted Yes.

"Being an educator strengthened my commitment to help families acquire the resources necessary to improve their quality of life. Seeing the light in students' eyes when they grasped a concept or mastered a skill gave me the greatest joy. As a congresswoman, I try to educate, engage and empower America's families, and I feel that same joy when they benefit from the results of their active participation in government."

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio)
Former educator
Voted Yes.

Rep. Ray Lahood (R-Ill.)
Former educator
Voted Yes.

Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.)
Former professor
Voted Yes.

"I feel lucky never to have given up teaching, really. As a member of Congress, it is my job to explain to my constituents and others the complexities of national and foreign policy, even as I participate in the making of that policy. My work as an educator years ago laid the foundation for what I do today."

Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.)
Former professor
Voted Yes.

"Being an educator gives me a unique perspective on my work in Congress. As a former college professor, I better understand the difficulties that face teachers at all levels, from implementing the No Child Left Behind Act to keeping students interested in math and science. Improving education is vital to our nation's future, and teachers are the ones on the frontline in this effort. We must provide the tools they need to successfully do their jobs."

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.)
Former professor
Voted Yes.

"Teaching law students who would go out and represent those in need of help after completing their course of studies was immensely satisfying. I remember also the wonderful times when I could provide encouragement to a student who felt discouraged...and then to find years later that the same person had succeeded and had brought justice to those in need of it. Insisting on high standards while helping students reach those standards meant a lot to me - both in terms of helping students to become good lawyers, but also to make sure that the public interest was protected." "

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.)
Former teacher
Voted Yes.

"Teachers have one of the most important responsibilities in our society and are not thanked enough. Good education is the foundation for a productive life, and good education begins with good teachers. I am proud to have taught in the New York City public school system and to have had the experience of teaching. It gives me a greater appreciation for our nation's teachers who every day help build lives."

Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.)
Former professor
Not in Congress in 2001.

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.)
Former teacher
Voted No.

"As a former social studies teacher, I am proud to be a strong champion in Congress for excellence in our nation's education system so that all children and youth have the opportunity to succeed. In addition to my frequent meetings in the schools with students, educators, and parents that I represent in of Minnesota's 4th congressional district, my time as a teacher in the classroom has helped to inform my policy decisions and strengthen our nation's schools."

Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.)
Former professor
Voted Yes.

"If you can read this, thank a teacher.' That's a popular bumper sticker. But I would add to that, if you can think critically, analyze problems, and then solve them, thank your favorite teacher. My love of learning was transmitted to me by my teachers and professors who taught me to think. My responsibility is to transmit that same love of learning and critical thinking ability to my audience, be they students or average Americans trying to understand how their government works."

Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Calif.)
Former educator
Voted Yes.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.)
Former teacher
Voted Yes.

"The best experience I had for being a senator was teaching preschool. Not only did I learn patience and how to deal with bullies, but I also saw how the policies we pass impact the lives and future of our children and families."

Rep. Marilyn N. Musgrave (R-Colo.)
Former teacher
Not in Congress in 2001.

Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.)
Former professor
Voted Yes.

Sen. E. Benjamin Nelson (D-Neb.)
Former educator
Voted No.

Rep. Anne M. Northup (R-Ky.)
Former educator
Voted Yes.

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.)
Former professor
Non-voting delegate.

Rep. James L. Oberstar (D-Minn.)
Former teacher
Voted Yes.

Rep. John W. Olver (D-Mass.)
Former professor
Couldn't find vote

Rep. Major R. Owens (D-N.Y.)
Former librarian
Voted Yes.

"Being an educator makes me feel both productive and hopeful…[Having been] a librarian gives me an appreciation of how vast and continuously expansive is the world of knowledge. At the same time my professional understanding of the ways and means to establish order within the information overload provides a comforting awareness of the fact that a practical utilization of the great tsunami of data is possible in the transformation of learning from one generation to another. Congress and public policy must constantly support the transformation of the possibilities for the nurturing of a maximally educated populace into working realities."

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.)
Former president of Board of Education and educator
Voted Yes.

Rep. Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.)
Former educator
Voted Yes.

Rep. Joseph R. Pitts (R-Pa.)
Former educator
Voted No.

Rep. David E. Price (D-N.C.)
Former professor
Voted Yes.

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.)
Former professor
Voted Yes.

"I taught at West Point in the late 1970s. I quickly appreciated how difficult it is to be a good teacher. It takes more than intellectual ability. A good teacher has to engage students and to pass on a passion for learning. Today, I understand we have to do all we can to support teachers because teachers make the most difference in the world."

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.)
Former teacher
Couldn't find vote.

"Being a teacher has been one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever held. It prepared me for public service and it cemented my already strong beliefs that a great education is the foundation to a successful and rewarding life for oneself and for the community in which you live."

Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
Former professor
Voted No.

Rep. Jim Saxton (R-N.J.)
Former teacher
Voted Yes.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)
Former professor
Voted Yes.

"As an adjunct community college professor, I tremendously enjoyed both sharing my insights on the political process and hearing my students' thoughts and opinions. Some of my own teachers had a strong and continuing influence on my life-I would like nothing better than to have encouraged my students to pursue their dreams in the field of their choice."

Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.)
Former teacher
Voted Yes.

"Being a former teacher makes me more aware of the challenges teachers face with regard to discipline, supplies, and special education. I have used that experience, in conjunction with continued meetings with teachers, to sponsor legislation regarding bullying and to cosponsor the Teacher Tax Credit Act, Teacher Tax Relief Act, Full Funding for IDEA Now Act, and the Social Security Fairness Act."

Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.)
Former professor
Voted Yes.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.)
Former professor
Voted Yes.

"As Philadelphia's District Attorney, I taught seminars on prosecution at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Temple Law School. As an educator, I learned that education is the single greatest capital investment we can make in our nation's future."

Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Ohio)
Former professor
Voted Yes.

"As an educator, I had a terrific opportunity not only to teach, but to learn from my students as well. Every day, I was humbled and appreciative of the chance to have a positive effect on young peoples' lives."

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.)
Former educator
Voted No.

Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.)
Former political science professor
Voted Yes.

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.)
Former educator
Voted Yes.


Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.)
Former educator
Voted Yes.

Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.)
Former professor
Voted No.

Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.)
Former educator
Voted Yes.

Rep. Mark Udall (D-Colo.)
Former educator
Voted Yes.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)
Former professor
Not in Congress in 2001.

Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.)
Former professor
Voted Yes.

Rep Diane E. Watson (D-Calif.)
Former teacher
Voted Yes.

"My background in education has truly had an everlasting impact on my life in more ways than one. The most important thing that I have taken away from my time as an educator is that education is like a seed because when planted, all it takes is a little nurturing and care for it to grow and blossom. It is this seed that can help to create scholars, community leaders, and a better tomorrow for our children and our children's children. There is nothing more valuable than the gift of knowledge."

Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.)
Former educator
Voted Yes.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)
Former professor
Voted Yes.

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska)
Former teacher
Couldn't find vote.

"In Fort Yukon, Alaska, I answered my calling where I was a teacher and mentor to fifth-grade elementary students in a Bureau of Indian Affairs school. It was constructed of logs and relied on a wood stove to keep my Alaska Native students warm in the sub-freezing, arctic winter. It may not have been a luxurious career, but it is my proudest professional achievement. While I may not be a teacher in a classroom anymore, I still value education and make a point of meeting with each and every Alaskan school group that visits D.C.

— Staff
NEA website
2006-12-15
http://www.nea.org/aew/lawmakers.html


INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES


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