Are Senators Who Attended Elite Schools Blind to the Plight of American Parents?

Good for me, but not for thee?

Annie Holmquist | February 14, 2017

Good for me, but not for thee?
Are Senators Who Attended Elite Schools Blind to the Plight of American Parents?

Following the vitriolic confirmation of Betsy DeVos as the U.S. Secretary of Education, Cheryl Kirk, a mother of three children in the Indiana school choice program, took to the web to write an open letter to Senator Al Franken about his opposition to school choice for families like her own. In Kirk’s eyes, it seemed quite elitist for Franken to send his own children to Dalton School, an elite private academy, while telling her family that they should be content with D or F rated public schools.

In her frustration, Ms. Kirk went on to tell Franken:

“I assume you realize that the fancy Dalton School you are used to isn't really what school is like for regular Americans like me. I certainly hope you realize that.”

Like Ms. Kirk, one would think that Senator Franken would realize this. But what if he doesn’t?

That thought actually might be a greater possibility than we realize. Is it possible that politicians like Franken are opposed to allowing parents to send their children to better schools because they haven’t had much exposure to what’s happening in the public schools? 

With this thought in mind, I decided to investigate how many current Senate members graduated from a private school. The chart below lists this information in order by state. After removing the Senators for whom no school information was available, one ends up with 10 out of 46 Republican Senators who graduated from a private high school and 15 out of 45 Democrat Senators who did the same. All told, such numbers indicate that 27 percent of the 2017-2018 Senate enjoyed private education.

By comparison, only 10 percent of the U.S. student population attends private school. That means that U.S. Senators are 270 percent more likely to have had a private education than the general population.

Is it possible that such a disparity has caused the ruling class to be oblivious to the type of education the nation’s schools actually provide? 

Alabama

Luther Strange

R

Public

Alabama

Richard Shelby

R

Public

Alaska

Dan Sullivan

R

Private

Alaska

Lisa Murkowski

R

Private

Arizona

Jeff Flake

R

Public

Arizona

John McCain

R

Private

Arkansas

Tom Cotton

R

Public

Arkansas

John Boozman

R

Public

California

Dianne Feinstein

D

Private

California

Kamala Harris

D

Public

Colorado

Michael Bennet

D

Private

Colorado

Cory Gardner

R

Public

Connecticut

Chris Murphy

D

Public

Connecticut

Richard Blumenthal

D

Private

Delaware

Tom Carper

D

Public

Delaware

Chris Coons

D

Private

Florida

Bill Nelson

D

Public

Florida

Marco Rubio

R

Public

Georgia

David Perdue

R

Public

Georgia

Johnny Isakson

R

n/a

Hawaii

Mazie Hirono

D

Public

Hawaii

Brian Schatz

D

Private

Idaho

Jim Risch

R

Private

Idaho

Mike Crapo

R

Public

Illinois

Dick Durbin

D

Private

Illinois

Tammy Duckworth

D

Public

Indiana

Joe Donnelly

D

n/a

Indiana

Todd Young

R

Public

Iowa

Joni Ernst

R

Public

Iowa

Chuck Grassley

R

Public

Kansas

Pat Roberts

R

Public

Kansas

Jerry Moran

R

Public

Kentucky

Mitch McConnell

R

Public

Kentucky

Rand Paul

R

Public

Louisiana

Bill Cassidy

R

Public

Louisiana

John Neely Kennedy

R

Public

Maine

Angus King

I (Caucus with D)

Public

Maine

Susan Collins

R

Public

Maryland

Ben Cardin

D

Public

Maryland

Chris Van Hollen

D

Private

Massachusetts

Elizabeth Warren

D

Public

Massachusetts

Ed Markey

D

Private

Michigan

Debbie Stabenow

D

Public

Michigan

Gary Peters

D

Public

Minnesota

Amy Klobuchar

D

Public

Minnesota

Al Franken

D

Private

Mississippi

Roger Wicker

R

Public

Mississippi

Thad Cochran

R

Public

Missouri

Claire McCaskill

D

Public

Missouri

Roy Blunt

R

n/a

Montana

Jon Tester

D

Public

Montana

Steve Daines

R

Public

Nebraska

Deb Fischer

R

Public

Nebraska

Ben Sasse

R

Public

Nevada

Catherine Cortez Masto

D

n/a

Nevada

Dean Heller

R

Public

New Hampshire

Jeanne Shaheen

D

Public

New Hampshire

Maggie Hassan

D

Public

New Jersey

Bob Menendez

D

Public

New Jersey

Cory Booker

D

Public

New Mexico

Martin Heinrich

D

Public

New Mexico

Tom Udall

D

Public

New York

Kirsten Gillibrand

D

Private

New York

Chuck Schumer

D

Public

North Carolina

Thom Tillis

R

n/a

North Carolina

Richard Burr

R

Public

North Dakota

Heidi Heitkamp

D

Public

North Dakota

John Hoeven

R

n/a

Ohio

Sherrod Brown

D

Public

Ohio

Rob Portman

R

Private

Oklahoma

Jim Inhofe

R

Public

Oklahoma

James Lankford

R

Public

Oregon

Jeff Merkley

D

Public

Oregon

Ron Wyden

D

Public

Pennsylvania

Bob Casey Jr.

D

Private

Pennsylvania

Pat Toomey

R

Private

Rhode Island

Sheldon Whitehouse

D

Private

Rhode Island

Jack Reed

D

Private

South Carolina

Lindsey Graham

R

Public

South Carolina

Tim Scott

R

Public

South Dakota

Mike Rounds

R

n/a

South Dakota

John Thune

R

Public

Tennessee

Bob Corker

R

Public

Tennessee

Lamar Alexander

R

Public

Texas

Ted Cruz

R

Private

Texas

John Corny

R

Private

Utah

Orrin Hatch

R

Public

Utah

Mike Lee

R

n/a

Vermont

Patrick Leahy

D

Private

Vermont

Bernie Sanders

I (Caucus with D)

Public

Virginia

Tim Kaine

D

Private

Virginia

Mark Warner

D

Public

Washington

Maria Cantwell

D

Public

Washington

Patty Murray

D

n/a

West Virginia

Joe Manchin

D

Public

West Virginia

Shelley Moore Capito

R

Private

Wisconsin

Tammy Baldwin

D

Public

Wisconsin

Ron Johnson

R

Public

Wyoming

John Barrasso

R

Private

Wyoming

Mike Enzi

R

Public

 

Image Credit: Jamie Howren, Library of Congress. Picture of former Senator Paul Simon and current Senator Al Franken.




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