- Dr. Jill Biden, President-elect Joe Biden’s wife and the future first lady, will push for debt-free community college, according to a close source who spoke with Yahoo News.
- “We have often talked about community colleges as the unsung heroes,” Martha Kanter, an under secretary of education during the administration of former President Barack Obama, told Yahoo News.
- While serving as second lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017, Biden taught English at Northern Virginia Community College.
- Biden plans to return to teaching as first lady, which would make her the only woman in the role’s 231-year history to have a full-time job while assuming the duties of the position, according to USA Today.
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Dr. Jill Biden, President-elect Joe Biden’s wife and the future first lady, will push for debt-free community college, a close source told Yahoo News.
Martha Kanter, an under secretary of education during the administration of former President Barack Obama, said that Biden’s lifelong commitment to education will extend to her role as first lady, with debt-free community college as a priority.
“That is what she would like to see,” Kanter told Yahoo News. “We have often talked about community colleges as the unsung heroes,” she said, adding that Biden has sought “to really help people understand the value proposition and the return on investment and why it’s important.”
Biden is also slated to advocate for the education issues that the president-elect championed during his campaign, according to the report. Those issues include doubling the number of psychologists, counselors, social workers, and other health workers in schools and improving teacher pay.
A longtime educator, Biden spent a large part of her professional career teaching at the community college level. While serving as second lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017, she was also an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College. Before that, she taught for 15 years at Delaware Technical Community College.
She plans to return to teaching as first lady, which would make her the only woman in the role’s 231-year history to have a full-time job while assuming the duties of the position, according to USA Today.
“Teaching has always been more than just a job to her – it’s who she is,” said Biden spokesperson Michael LaRosa to Yahoo News.
Biden, who earned two master’s degrees from West Chester University and Villanova University, respectively, in addition to a doctorate from the University of Delaware, has been a staunch supporter of community colleges.
During a 2015 speech at the National Legislative Summit, a leading community college advocacy event, she credited her grandmother with her love of education and detailed the rewards of helping students with their reading skills.
“Teaching is my life’s work,” Biden said at the time. “I teach because I love seeing the difference that I hope to make in my students’ lives. My goal is to always give them confidence in their own abilities, because I know confidence will carry them well beyond my classroom in whatever they do. As I work hard every day to inspire my students, it is ultimately they who inspire me.”
Kanter told Yahoo news that Biden’s classroom experience gives her a “critical voice” for upcoming education debates.
“She’s … knowledgeable about the challenges,” she said. “Why do students leave? Why do they drop out? What are the barriers that we better work much harder and to get out of the way? And I think that’s what she’s going to say.”
While Obama tried to enact legislation making two years of community college free, he faced GOP opposition in the Senate. While the president-elect will face similar headwinds, especially if Republicans retain control of the Senate after the January 2021 runoff elections in Georgia, the incoming first lady has “an informal but crucial role advising the president-elect,” according to a former staffer.
“She’s been a pretty great sounding board throughout his career,” the staffer said to Yahoo News. “She will have a very ambitious portfolio and I’m sure she’s particularly influential on the education front. She’s got decades of experience there.”