Teaching Profession

Teachers-Turned-Lawmakers Vocal on Education Bill

By Liana Loewus — July 18, 2013 1 min read

As you may know, the U.S. House of Representatives is set to debate a Republican-backed rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, possibly as soon as today. EdWeek‘s Alyson Klein has detailed (and incredibly well-explicated) coverage of what’s going on with the bill—which has lots of implications for teachers evaluation—over at the Politics K-12 blog.

In her posts, Alyson points out that two teachers-turned-congressmen have been vocal in the rewriting process. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, a former high school teacher, proposed an amendment to strike language in the bill requiring states to incorporate student outcomes into teacher evaluations. That amendment has since been tossed, though now Bishop is pushing a (still hazy) provision stating there would be no federal mandate on evaluations.

Another former high school teacher, Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., proposed an amendment to reduce the number of times students were tested in grades 3-8, though that amendment did not make it to the final vote, either. Takano also used his former-teacher persona to his advantage last week by brutally editing a letter from GOP members to House Speaker John Boehner about immigration. He posted a photo of the red-inked document, which included an F grade and a note to “See me after votes,” on Twitter.

So you may be wondering (as I was): Are there other former teachers in the House? A quick bit of online sleuthing indicates, yes, there sure are. Rep. Tim Waltz, D-Minn., taught high school in China, Nebraska, and Minnesota. Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., taught early childhood education at Santa Barbara City College for 10 years. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, R-Mich., was an English and social studies teacher in public and private schools for more than a decade. Reps. Janice Hahn, D-Calif., and Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., indicate teaching experience in their bios as well. There may be others I missed.

So what does this mean for ESEA? Well, a handful of former teachers—most of whom will vote along party lines—among the 435 representatives doesn’t add up to much. But it does serve to complicate the narrative that teachers aren’t affecting policy in Washington.

Click here for our a collection of EdWeek‘s NCLB-renewal coverage.

Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif. in a 2012 file photo.—AP-File

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.