California Educator

December/January 2021

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Page 39 of 67

A F T E R F O U R Y E A R S 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, when community college professor and NEA member Jill Biden becomes first lady and her husband, Joseph R. Biden, Jr., is inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States. Educators nationwide are filled with hope about the future for pub- lic 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 bat- tling a U.S. 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, con- tinuing 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 promises 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 Feature "No one knows what our schools need now more than the people who are with students every day — and that's us!" —Future First Lady and professor Jill Biden Educator in the White House Jill Biden ready to work to "build back better" By Julian Peeples 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 stu- dents deserve. Among Jill Biden's priorities for the near term: addressing food insecurity issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic and technolog- ical 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 con- cerns. During a meeting thanking NEA and the American Federation of Teach- ers for their tireless support during the campaign, she acknowledged how different this year has been for educators — especially those navigating dis- tance learning as both teachers and parents. "is 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. ank you for your faith in Joe, me, and in the future we are going to build together." Left, Jill Biden speaks at a virtual NEA/AFT event in November. Below, Biden with NEA President Becky Pringle. 38

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