After four years of defending students and public schools from near-constant threat, educators will celebrate one of our own moving into the White House on Jan. 20, 2021, when community college professor and NEA member Dr. Jill Biden becomes First Lady and her husband, Joseph R. Biden, is inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States.
Educators nationwide are filled with hope about the future for public schools with a President who understands the promise of public education and a First Lady who has dedicated her life to fulfilling it. After four years of battling a federal Secretary of Education who openly worked to dismantle public education, NEA President Becky Pringle said educators are eager and excited to work with President and First Lady Biden.
“With Joe, we get Jill,” Pringle said in an interview before the election. “She understands how we have to have that authority and respect to do the jobs that we were professionally trained to do.”
Jill Biden’s status as a working educator won’t be past-tense – she intends to be the first-ever in her position to also hold a “day job,” continuing to teach English at Northern Virginia Community College. It’s this real-world educator’s point-of-view that will help inform and shape education policy in the Biden Administration, which has already promised to triple Title I funds for schools in high-need areas, provide districts with the resources needed to hire more student support staff like school counselors and school nurses, and name an educator as the next U.S. Secretary of Education.
“Educators, this is our moment! We’re going to build back better,” Jill Biden says. “No one knows what our schools need now more than the people who are with students every day – and that’s us!”
With President-Elect Biden and California’s own Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, educators across the United States will again have advocates and leaders who believe in public education, understand the challenges currently facing educators, and are willing to provide the resources necessary to protect the health of school communities and build the public schools that all students deserve. Among Jill Biden’s priorities for the near-term: addressing food insecurity issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic and technological inequities that are impacting the ability of many students to take part in distance learning.
On the campaign trail, Jill Biden connected with educators across the country at virtual events, taking time to learn about their stories and concerns. During a meeting thanking National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers for their tireless support in the successful election, she acknowledged how different this year has been for educators – especially those navigating distance learning as both teachers and parents.
“This year has been so difficult, but I have never been prouder to be an educator,” she said. “I’m ready to get to work with you. Thank you for your faith in Joe, me and in the future we are going to build together.”
The end of the Trump Administration also closes the book on Betsy DeVos’ dubious reign as Education Secretary, soon to be replaced by an actual educator who believes in the power of public schools and the potential of public education. Among the names being floated as the possible next Secretary of Education: past NEA President Lily Eskelsen-García, AFT President Randi Weingarten and California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. Information about the Biden Transition is available here.