Federal File: A teacher on the Hill
In a speech in Baltimore earlier this month, Vice President Al Gore decried the lack of scientific understanding among members of Congress.
"Page through a directory of members of Congress and you'll find well over 150 lawyers, but only six scientists, two engineers, and one science teacher," he said at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. (See Education Week, Feb. 21, 1996.)
So who's the science teacher? It's Sue W. Kelly, a GOP freshman who represents a suburban area north of New York City.
Ms. Kelly, 59, taught a general-science course and served as a substitute teacher at John Jay Junior High School in Lewisboro, N.Y., for a few years in the 1960s.
"I like working with kids, and junior high is a wonderful level to teach," she said last week. "Not everyone would say that, because they are at an age when they are testing everything. But if you can catch a youngster's mind at that age, you can help it learn to fly."
She earned a bachelor's degree in botany and bacteriology from Denison University in Granville, Ohio, and one of her favorite units to teach involved growing bacterial cultures.
Rep. Kelly resigned her teaching post when she became pregnant with her first child.
"When I was working, there was no way you could teach while you were 'showing,"' she recalled. "You can see how far women have come."
After raising four children, Ms. Kelly was active in community affairs, serving as the president of her local PTA. She later started a business and was an adjunct professor at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y.
Ms. Kelly does not serve on the Economic and Educational Opportunities Committee or the appropriations panel that handles education spending. But she says that her classroom experience has had an influence.
Ms. Kelly noted that she crossed party lines to vote against the fiscal 1996 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill that was approved by the House because of her concerns about cuts it proposes in education and child-nutrition programs.
"Once you are a teacher, you are always a teacher," she said.