January/February 2021 Issue
December 22, 2020

With Dr. Jill Biden, we’ll have one of our own in the White House

Author: Sylvia Saunders
Source: NYSUT United
dr. jill biden
Caption: As second lady, Jill Biden frequently visited schools.

Talk about elevating teacher voice.

When President-elect Joe Biden takes his oath of office in January, he will have a longtime teacher and union member standing by his side: Dr. Jill Biden.

The future first lady is a lifelong educator who loves the profession so much that she will continue teaching at an area community college even after she moves into the White House — just like she did while her husband served as vice president. She is a longtime member of the National Education Association.

“Teaching isn’t just what she does.

It’s who she is,” Joe Biden said in his Nov. 7 victory speech. “For America’s educators, this is a great day. You’re going to have one of your own in the White House.”

Known as “Dr. B.” to her community college students, Biden has been an educator for more than three decades. Before moving to Washington, D.C., she taught English and writing at a community college in Delaware, at public high schools and at a psychiatric hospital for adolescents. When she gave her Democratic National Convention speech last summer, it was from her former classroom at Brandywine High School in Delaware.

She earned her doctorate in education from the University of Delaware in 2007, with a dissertation on how to maximize student retention in community college.

She also has master’s degrees in education and English.

Jill Biden is often asked why she wants to continue teaching at Northern Virginia Community College while serving as first lady.

“It’s important, and I want people to value teachers and know their contributions, and lift up the profession,” she told the “CBS Morning Show.” Biden is passionate about the power of community college as a path to success — and always a strong advocate for expanding higher education access and support.

Not surprisingly, Jill Biden strongly supports her husband’s promise to appoint an educator to be the nation’s new education secretary.

“Four years of Betsy DeVos is more than enough,” Joe Biden said. “We need a secretary of education who is actually a public school educator.” DeVos, who has been among the most unpopular cabinet members in the Trump administration, never taught in a classroom or attended a public school. The education secretary oversees the U.S. Department of Education and sets the nation’s agenda on everything from standardized testing requirements to federal funding priorities.

Biden has repeatedly made it clear he intends to keep listening to educators.

“You will never find in American history a president who is more teacher-centric and more supportive of teachers than me,” Biden told NEA members at their 2020 convention.