Guest Columnist

Jill Biden: Let's elect an education president

Jill Biden, the wife of former Vice President Joe Biden, poses with a young girl during a campaign stop in Audubon, Iowa
Jill Biden, the wife of former Vice President Joe Biden, poses with a young girl during a campaign stop in Audubon, Iowa. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Holly Bailey

On Caucus night, February 3rd, Iowans across the state will choose a corner that represents the future they want. With so much at stake for schools and students across Iowa, educators deserve a President who puts public education first and will stand up for them with a bold and achievable vision. That is Joe Biden. And, if there is one group Joe needs on his side to win, it is educators. They’re organized, they understand that this election is critical, and they know when to use their “teacher voice.”

From Denison to Davenport, from Clinton to Keokuk, I have truly loved meeting Iowa’s educators over the last few months. Iowa educators tell me that their students inspire them. It is a feeling I know well; I have been a teacher for more than 30 years. There is nothing quite like watching students find their confidence and thrive in your classroom.

Educators also tell me about the challenges they face. Three years after Republicans undermined a well-established collective bargaining system, educators often feel like their voices are not heard. New teachers tell me about how difficult it is to pay their rent. One man told me that he and his wife--both educators--had such high student loan payments that they could not afford to start a family.

Still, what keeps teachers up at night is not their own pocketbooks--it’s that they do not always have the resources to help their students. From early intervention to counseling to health care support, they wish they could do more for students and their families.

And that is why Joe and I believe that education policy should come from educators--people who are in classrooms.

Joe’s plan invests in educators--by paying them competitive salaries, increasing career opportunities, and helping them pay off their student loan debt. He is going to protect and expand their rights to organize and bargain collectively.

Joe’s plan supports schools, especially in low-income areas, by tripling Title I funding and modernizing and improving public school buildings. He will double the number of school psychologists, nurses, and other trained health professionals who help students thrive.

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Joe is going to support students by investing in children from birth through high school graduation and beyond. I teach at Northern Virginia Community College, and I have traveled to community colleges throughout Iowa as well. So, I have seen firsthand how affordable college options can change people’s lives. That is why I am so excited that Joe is going to make sure everyone can go to two years of community college or training programs without going into debt.

As President, Joe will appoint a Secretary of Education who has classroom experience -- an educator who actually knows what it is like to teach in a public school.

Joe has spent his entire career bringing people together and delivering on the promises he makes. That is what educators need most right now: someone who knows how to get the work done. He can win in November. He knows how to reach across the divide. He can unite our nation.

And when he does, there will be a teacher standing beside him as First Lady.

So this February 3rd, I want to say to every educator in this great state: Joe is in your corner--and I’m asking you to stand in his.

Jill Biden is the former Second Lady of the United States and a professor at Northern Virginia Community College. She is the wife of Vice President Joe Biden.

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