Massachusetts Senator and Democratic presidential candidateElizabeth Warrenclaims she lost a public school teaching job because she was “visibly pregnant,” but that’s not true according to Harvard Law ProfessorElizabeth Warren, who told a very different story in 2007.
Over the past several days, people have beencirculatingthe claim that Warren lied about being fired over a pregnancy, and while that’s not quite right, it does demonstrate how the lie that has become a regular part of Warren’s stump speech has evolved. The central idea has always been that she was living her dream of being a public school special ed teacher until some villainousMad Med-era principal put the kibosh on the whole thing because of her baby bump.
When Warren tells the story now — as she did at aCarson City, Nevada rallythis week — she says she’d be teaching special needs kids right now if it hadn’t for that dastardly principal.
She told the crowd she had “lived her dream job,” emotionally described how it was a “calling” and not just a job, and after getting cheers from the other teachers in the crowd, described the wrenching circumstances that forced her to abandon that dream.
“I still remember the 4 to 6-year-olds, I still remember the faces of every one of them,” Warren said. “I remember some of our lessons, the things we worked on, I remember our successes, and our failures. I loved that work, and I would probably still be doing in that work today, but my story has some more turns.”
“By the end of the first year, I was visibly pregnant, and the principal did what principals did in those days,” she said. “Wished me luck, and hired someone else for the job. Okay.”
Warren is absolutely right that women in the early 70s were subjected to pregnancy discrimination, which was legal then, andpersistsnow even with laws in place. But in a March 8, 200 interview with Harvard Law ProfessorLeo Gottlieb, Warren made it clear that such discrimination had nothing to do with the loss of that teaching job.
Warren told Gottlieb how she had earned a full scholarship to George Washington University at 16, and graduated with a degree in speech pathology and audiology, and didn’t mention the commuter college that has become another pillar in her bio. She then explained that she left her public school job after one school year because she lacked the educational credentials to qualify for a permanent position, and that she decided on her own to abandon the calling.
I was married at nineteen and graduated from college after I’d married, and my first year post-graduation I worked in a public school system with the children with disabilities. I did that for a year, and then that summer I didn’t have the education courses, so I was on an “emergency certificate,” it was called. I went back to graduate school and took a couple of courses in education and said, “I don’t think this is going to work out for me.” I was pregnant with my first baby, so I had a baby and stayed home for a couple of years, and I was really casting about, thinking, “What am I going to do?” My husband’s view of it was, “Stay home. We have children, we’ll have more children, you’ll love this.” And I was very restless about it.
So, I went back home to Oklahoma — by this point we were living in New Jersey because of his job — I went back home to Oklahoma for Christmas and saw a bunch of the boys that I had been in high school debate with and they’d all gone on to law school, and they said, “You should go to law school. You’ll love it.” I said, “You really think so?” And they said, “Of all of us, you should have gone to law school. You’re the one who should’ve gone to law school.” So, I took the tests, applied to law school, and the day my daughter, who later became my co-author, turned two, I started law school at Rutgers Law School in New Jersey, which at the time had the nickname of being the “People’s Electric Law Company,” a really crazy place.
It is possible that the timing of these events — the pregnancy and the failure to be invited back to teach — coincided, although it doesn’t sound that way. There may even have been a principal who wished her luck. But Warren herself said she wasn’t invited back because she lacked the required courses.