It seems like every politician has big ideas about how to fix education in America. But not all of them have actually spent time leading a classroom.
Only 18 percent of current members of Congress have worked in education.
So which politicians have actually gotten their hands dirty (with chalk) in front of actual students? You’d be surprised by some of the big policymakers who have done so.
- Former President Barack Obama
First of all, everyone will recognize the first guy on our list. He was America’s teacher-in-chief for eight years, former President Barack Obama. Obama was a professor of law at the University of Chicago from 1992 until his 2004 election to the U.S. Senate.
- Washington Sen. Patty Murray
Sen. Patty Murray knows what it’s like for kids in the earliest part of their educational journey because she was a preschool teacher before entering politics.
- Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Sen. Elizabeth Warren is regularly discussed as a potential presidential contender for Democrats in the 2020 election. If she were to win, she’d be the second straight Democratic president to have taught college students—she taught law at Harvard.
- Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has served in the House of Representatives for nearly three decades, but her previous career was in education. She was both a teacher and principal before she headed to the Capitol in 1989.
- California Rep. Mark Takano
Rep. Mark Takano has emerged as one of Congress’ social-media stars during the Trump era, but before that he followed a different career path. He began teaching at Riverside County’s Rialto High School in 1988 before he ran for any office.
When you see big educational policies in the news, it wouldn’t hurt to take a peek at the policymakers who support the legislation. If they have spent time as educators, chances are they know what they’re talking about.