Apr 28, 2022
President Biden welcomes National and State Teachers of the Year to the White House 4/27/22 Transcript
President Biden welcomes National and State Teachers of the Year to the White House 4/27/22. Read the transcript here.
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Speaker 1: (00:00)
Ready for the camera?
Speaker 3: (00:00)
Don’t worry about it.
Speaker 4: (01:33)
Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States and Dr. Jill Biden, accompanied by Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and the 2022 National Teacher of the Year Kurt Russell.
President Joe Biden: (02:20)
I’m not supposed to do this. No, no. I’m going to embarrass you.
Miguel Cardona: (02:24)
No, no. You [crosstalk 00:02:24].
President Joe Biden: (02:25)
No. Come here, come here, come here. I’m not supposed to speak now. Please sit down. We have the Teacher of the Year of 20…
Speaker 2: (02:31)
President Joe Biden: (02:32)
Sixteen, who’s now the General Congresswoman from Connecticut.
Miguel Cardona: (02:36)
President Joe Biden: (02:37)
Stand up. Let everybody see you. Jahana Hayes. But because she’s always used to being on time, she has to go. They just called the vote in the House of Representatives. I love you. Thanks for being here.
Miguel Cardona: (02:51)
Miguel Cardona: (02:56)
Good afternoon. I’m excited to join the President and the First Lady to recognize our National Teacher of the Year Kurt Russell and to celebrate all the state Teachers of the Year.
Miguel Cardona: (03:50)
This upcoming year, you represent the best profession in America. During my teaching days, I always looked forward to hearing about this event. Today, I may be the Secretary of Education, but as you could tell by the smile on my face, I’m excited and honored to be surrounded by outstanding teachers. I feel like I’m at home.
Miguel Cardona: (04:11)
You probably don’t know this, but Mr. Russell and I share some things in common. We both became teachers in the communities that raised us. We both remember the profound impact that teachers of color had on us when we were children. I’ll never forget how Mr. O’Neill, my first male teacher of color, made me feel. I remember thinking, “This guy’s a pretty cool guy. I want to be just like him.”
Miguel Cardona: (04:35)
Now, in Mr. Russell’s history class, students also feel seen and they feel motivated. Educators like Mr. Russell, remind us that science is an art. Teachers are also experts in the science of learning. They deserve respect.
Miguel Cardona: (04:54)
But as I travel the country, I know teachers being asked to do more and more. This will not only be Teacher Appreciation Week next week, but teacher appreciation year.
Speaker 5: (05:15)
Miguel Cardona: (05:16)
That’s why the Department and the Biden Harris administration have called for higher pay for teachers, more support staff, better working conditions, and professional development and more teacher pipeline programs to bring talented, diverse individuals into the field. And we must also lift teacher voice as we reimagine education in this country.
Speaker 5: (05:37)
Speaker 6: (05:38)
Miguel Cardona: (05:38)
You’re welcome. Hey, we also revamped the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program so teachers can benefit of debt relief for their incredible work. So as a teacher, I’m going to give you homework. Pay attention. To all the teachers here today, go to StudentAid.gov to apply between now and October 31st, so you can have any federal student loan payment count toward forgiveness. Okay? That’s your homework. I hope your plus ones have been taking notes here, because I know you can’t take out your phones during class.
Miguel Cardona: (06:15)
Teaching is the foundation of all opportunity in America. Name a profession that was made possible without a teacher. You can’t. Mr. Russell, thank you for your passion as an educator. You’re a role model not only for your students, but to educators across America. This is going to be a great year. Congratulations to you.
Miguel Cardona: (06:33)
And now, it gives me great honor to introduce a teacher herself and the greatest champion for teachers in the White House, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.
Dr. Jill Biden: (06:53)
Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you, Secretary Cardona. And welcome to the White House. As I was reading through your stories, I was so impressed by the innovation and creativity that all of you bring to your classrooms every day. Kurt Russell, our National Teacher of the Year, helps students find a sense of self worth by dressing for success. Autumn Rivera from Colorado helped her students join a campaign to save a local lake. Jared Kepp, where are you? Has helped his Native American students explore their tribal culture and history. And the stories go on and on.
Dr. Jill Biden: (07:59)
But I also know that what makes your work special isn’t just the projects or presentations. It’s not the curriculum or the classroom tactics. It’s that smile that tells students that they don’t have to be afraid to say and answer out loud. It’s the calm in your voice that can still the wild horses running through their hearts. It’s the way that you know that sometimes, ” I’m fine” means everything is wrong. It’s how they know that you’re telling the truth when you say, “It’s okay. We’re going to figure this out together.”
Dr. Jill Biden: (08:45)
What makes your work so special is you, the love and the joy that you bring to it, the empathy and the understanding, the sheer power of your presence. You do this work because it’s a part of who you are, because you have a calling. And you’re not alone. Somewhere listening is a college student who grew up teaching her younger brothers and sisters and knows that she has a gift, a young man who took an education class and something just clicked for the first time. There’s an artist who wants to spread the joy of creating something out of nothing.
Dr. Jill Biden: (09:37)
They have a calling, too, to show students an entirely new world in science or history or art to guide them through uncharted paths, to change someone’s life forever in big, red letter moments and small acts of kindness. To them I want to say, “Listen to that call. Join us. Yes, you. You can change the world one student at a time. And we need you. We need more teachers.” I can’t promise that it will be an easy job, right? But I can promise that it will fill your life with meaning and purpose and joy. My own grandmother was a teacher in a small town in New Jersey, and she loved her work and her students loved her in return. And just like you might see in the movies, she used to call her students to class with a big brass bell. And when she died, she didn’t leave behind a giant estate. But what I inherited from her and what I still have to this day is that bell. And I sometimes think about the way her legacy resonated into the world like waves of sound, changing those who heard its ring. I think of every student she taught and every child who she inspired and wonder what amazing things they grew up to do.
Dr. Jill Biden: (11:43)
Perhaps they are public servants working to make our communities a little stronger, a little fairer. Perhaps they are doctors saving lives or architects building our cities or scientists working to solve global challenges. And of course, there’s at least one teacher. Today, all of you, ring your own bell, pulling each person you teach into a harmony that never ends.
Dr. Jill Biden: (12:15)
Right now, someone out there is a better thinker because of you. Someone is standing a little taller because you helped her find the confidence that she needed. Someone is working a little harder because you pushed him to try. Someone is a little kinder because you showed her what that meant. And someone is braver because you helped him find his courage. Never stop ringing that bell. Never forget that, student by student, the lives… Now, I’m getting emotional. The lives you change-
Dr. Jill Biden: (13:03)
Now, I’m getting emotional. The lives you change go on to change the world. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And now, I’m proud to introduce someone who has answered their call with passion, persistence, and pride, the 2022 National Teacher of the Year, Kurt Russell.
Kurt Russell: (13:42)
Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you so much. Wow. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you so much. It is just an honor and a pleasure to be here. President Biden, thank you for your belief and tireless effort in education. Appreciate it. Thank you, Dr. Biden, for your strong leadership and your efficacy towards education for more equitable education, as well. Secretary Cardona, thank you for your effort and your service and your leadership. To my Ohio delegate, thank you so much. Miss Angela [Dickey 00:14:40], my state coordinator. Mr. [Brent Betz 00:14:43], my principal. My superintendent, Mister … Dr. David Hall, forgive me, and my state superintendent, as well, Dr. Stephanie [Sidis 00:14:53]. So thank you, as well. I would like to say thank you Oberlin City Schools and for their tireless effort in supporting me, my Oberlin family. A special and most important thank you to my beautiful wife, Donna, who is here, and my two sons, KJ, Kurt Junior, we call him KJ, and Corey, and to my mother and my in-laws, as well. So it’s just a pleasure to be here with you.
Kurt Russell: (15:28)
A special thank you to the most distinguished, talented, amazing group of educators assembled in one place, the 2022 State Teachers of the Year. Allow me to give you a hand. You are truly, truly amazing and I look forward to learning from you and taking this journey together. When I look at your, I see your desire to improve the lives of your students. I am humbled and honored to represent you, along with the thousands of hardworking educators throughout this nation, who believe in a rich, fulfilling education for all students.
Kurt Russell: (16:25)
Especially during this past two years, I have personally witnessed teachers pour into their students unwavering kindness, love, and hope. Being here today makes me think of my colleague and good friend, [Danita 00:16:42], who has touched countless children’s lives with her caring approach to teaching. Each day, she gives her time in investing in every child that crosses her path by giving out hugs to students who are having a difficult time or even something simple as a granola bar to students who are hungry.
Kurt Russell: (17:06)
Danita epitomizes what great teaching is, cheering, rooting, and being invested in the wholeness of the child. Each student needs a champion, no matter what the circumstances are. Each morning, parents give us their most precious gifts, their children. Parents have placed trust that we nurture, cultivate, and help students find personal meaning and purpose in their lives. School is where dreams come alive. It has been teachers who have laid the foundations of possibilities.
Kurt Russell: (17:51)
It was my kindergarten teacher, Miss [Toss 00:17:54], Miss Francine Toss. I still vaguely remember my first day of kindergarten. I was greeted by Miss Toss, a middle-aged white woman with a huge smile and a gentle voice. She welcomed each student to her class and, like all teachers on the first day, tried to ease the nervousness of her students.
Kurt Russell: (18:17)
The school year was great. Miss Toss made learning enjoyable, fun, and she created a learning environment in which you felt as though you were the only one in the classroom. Her lessons were meaningful and heartfelt and one could tell she enjoyed teaching, but more importantly, Miss Toss intentionally incorporated an inclusive curriculum. She read books by black authors and women authors and made sure that all students felt a sense of belonging.
Kurt Russell: (18:52)
It was also my eighth grade math teacher, Mr. Larry Thomas, the first black male teacher I ever had. Mr. Thomas wore an afro, was an impeccable dresser, and he wore a shirt and tie every single day. When I looked at him, I saw a professional. This provided me with the attainable goal of becoming a teacher. In him, I could see myself.
Kurt Russell: (19:25)
As I reflect on the lessons that I learned from Miss Toss and Mr. Thomas, I realize that teaching has to be learner-centered. Students must see themselves in the classrooms and the curriculum in order to empower and to engage. That’s why I created courses that allow students to feel value, courses that deals with women’s rights, gay rights, and also a survey of black history. It’s important that my students see themselves as I see them, with unlimited potential and full of gifts.
Kurt Russell: (20:07)
As our 2022 National Teacher of the Year, I am committed to uplifting the wonderful work of educators. I am truly blessed to be a part of a profession that transforms and legitimize student forces and plant the groundwork for a more culturally responsive education. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you.
Kurt Russell: (21:04)
I am now honored to introduce someone who knows the power of education, a man who is proudly married to a lifelong educator, President Joe Biden.
Joe Biden: (21:19)
Kurt Russell: (21:30)
Thank you, sir.
Joe Biden: (21:34)
Thank you. Thank you, Kurt. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Secretary Cardona, thank you. And I want to thank Jill. Jill is the nation’s first first lady to work full-time as a professor, as a teacher. She taught high school and she teaches at community college for a long time now. We made a deal that she’s so … Teaching is not what Jill does, it’s who she is, like most of you, who you are, what you believe. And so when we got elected to presidency and as vice president, as well, I suggested and she agreed fully that she should continue to teach. People said, “What?” Well, she teaches 14 credits a semester, community college, full-time, and she does her job. I’m very, very supportive of teachers for a number of reasons. Some of them are personal, but if I didn’t support teachers, I’d be sleeping alone in one of these bedrooms up here. Before I begin the formal comments, one of the things that Jill reminded me when she spoke … I’ll bet all of you can give examples, as well. I got lucky. I won the lottery, in terms of parents. My mother and father are wonderful people. I had one of those moms that everybody wished had been their mom, for real. Everybody hung at my house.
Joe Biden: (23:11)
But I also was a bit of a runt, in terms of my size, and I used to talk like this. I stuttered badly. And when you stutter, everyone thinks you have to be either stupid or totally incompetent. And if you notice, it’s the only infirmity a child can talk about, an adult can talk about having had, but people … you didn’t because you’re teachers, think they can laugh, think it’s funny.
Joe Biden: (23:47)
If you saw the movie King’s Speech, you understand. We went to see it, Jill and I, and right as the king was standing at the racetrack making the speech, she reached over. I guess I’d tightened up somehow. It brought back home all the memories. And I look back on it now and I wonder, besides I really got lucky with my parents, my mother would say, “Look at me, Joey. Look at me. You’re smart [inaudible 00:24:16]. You’re this, you’re that. So stop. You can do this.”
Joe Biden: (24:20)
My point is this, that I had teachers … I can name the ones through grade school, high school, and even college. I didn’t really beat my stuttering. Still, occasionally I do, until I took speech, the big class in college. I forced myself to be able to stand up. When they sent me the copy, the guy who wrote the King’s Speech found the original speech and made a copy of it and sent it to me, from the movie. And he does the speeches exactly like I did, which a nun taught me. If you took a look at my speech, you’ll see that there’s all these slash marks in the speech because an awful lot of people who are … I can’t sing worth a damn, but the people, entertainers and singers, can sing like a nightingale, but can’t talk, can’t speak.
Joe Biden: (25:18)
I look back on my life and I think beyond my family, my sister, my brother, my mom, my dad. The people who made a difference in my life in a fundamental way were teachers. I remember I was talking on the way over to this. My staff is going, “Why aren’t you giving the speech we wrote?” I truly remember, and we were talking about it on the way over, what got me involved in politics. I got involved into politics because I think the greatest sin that anyone can commit is the abuse of power, whatever that power is, the power of a teacher, the power of a doctor, the power of a …
Joe Biden: (26:03)
… the power of a teacher, the power of a doctor, the power of a leader. When someone who is relying on you, or you cannot… Just the abuse of power. And I got involved because my state was the only state in the union when Dr. King was murdered, that was occupied by the National Guard for 10 months, with drawn bayonets in every corner, because we had a very conservative governor who ordered the National Guard. And because my state is the eighth largest black population in America, as a percent of population. And I had a job of one of the oldest law firms in the state, and I quit and became a public defender. That’s what got me involved.
Joe Biden: (26:41)
But again, where teachers come in, I had no intention of running for public office. Everybody thought Biden knew he wanted to be president at the time he was in sixth grade or something. I love these biographies, but here’s the deal. What I did do, I wanted to get engaged. And so we had a very, very conservative Democratic party in my state. And I thought it was wrong on civil rights. The more progressive party was the Republican party, because we were a Southern Democratic party. We were a slave state to our great shame early on. We fought on the side of the north like Maryland did and two other states, but we were a border state and that’s what got me going.
Joe Biden: (27:26)
And so I was asked by a group of senior lawyers, whether or not I joined a thing called a New Democratic Coalition. And the reason I bothered to tell you that was how to reform the party, how to bring it into the 21st century and the 20th century at the time.
Joe Biden: (27:43)
And one day after being asked to see if I could help recruit someone to run for the United States Senate against a very popular Republican Senator, a group of Senator, a former Senator, a former Congressman, two former governors came to me and said, “We want you to run.” And I wasn’t even old enough. I was 29 years old and I thought this is crazy. But I remember going home from that convention. And the first stop I made was to speak to a professor named Dr. Ingersol, who was one of those professors who was my philosophy professor in political science.
Joe Biden: (28:24)
And I stopped him and I told him what was going on. And he looked at me and I’ll not forget what he said. He said, “You should do it.” I said, “I can’t do that.” I never even knew anybody who was in the Senate. And he looked at me, he said, “Remember what Plato said.” I’ll paraphrase what he said. The penalty good people pay for not being involved in politics is being governed by people worse themselves. But my generic point is this. He gave me the confidence as a 29 year old kid with no money to run.
Joe Biden: (29:05)
He gave me the confidence. Just like the nun would tell me, “Joey, Joey, you can do this.” They gave me the confidence. And I think about it. You’re going to think about 20 years from now, how did you end up standing on the podium in the White House? No, you didn’t ever expect that. I wonder how I got here. I got here because of my parents and my teachers. My teachers. And so folks, that idea is exemplified by the National Teacher of the Year. Kurt, you have and I have something in common though. I was an adjunct professor in law school for years, teaching an advanced course in separation of powers. And I taught to get money when I was at Syracuse Law School to get through law school. I was a substitute teacher. You should be nicer to them.
Joe Biden: (30:20)
But that’s not what Kurt and I have in common. We have in common is we both married women who are smarter than we are. This is an assistant dean at Overland College. One of the finest colleges in the country. Kurt teaches history, taught 25 years. In fact, he teaches the same town, the same district he grew up in. And by the way, when I left the vice presidency, I had a chance to do a number of things. But I became a professor at University of Pennsylvania in presidential politics. And I enjoyed it, but it’s hard. That’s the other thing people don’t realize. It’s hard. How much you prepare.
Joe Biden: (31:12)
I had a three credit course I taught in law school. I would literally every single… I didn’t want to do it during the week because I didn’t want people to say I’m taking away from my job as a senator. I did it on Saturdays at Delaware Law School. I would prepare, Jill will tell you, three to four hours before every class. And it was what not only I taught, but what I did as chairman of the judiciary committee, I taught about separation of powers.
Joe Biden: (31:42)
It was what I did my whole life and it took me all that time. But the point is, it really mattered. I love what this guy said in his classroom about, he said, “We listen to each other and respect people’s opinion.” Well, part of this is all about fundamentally teaching respect. While we might be in the opposite sides of hot topics, we’re in the same side in terms of having respect for one another. Kurt, I understand you wanted to go back home to be a teacher because your teachers inspired you. I’ll bet every one of you can name one or two teachers who fundamentally impacted your lives. Well, I think you’ve paid it forward many times over, old buddy, and transforming the lives of your students in Overland, Ohio. Helping students see themselves in you. That’s what happens, I think. And helping all your students, not only learn history, but see that they have a role in shaping history. I mean, in a literal sense.
Joe Biden: (32:54)
And Delaware Teacher of the Year. Where were you, [Josha 00:33:01]? Where’s my [inaudible 00:33:02]? I got to admit we’re the second smallest state, but I’m a little prejudice on behalf of this state. I know there are a lot of eighth graders at Brandy Wine who are feeling confident and more comfortable because of your help. Jill taught at the same school when she was in Delaware, at Brandy Wine High School. And even though teacher appreciation week officially starts next week, I wanted to get it started earlier. It’s an honor for me and First Lady and Secretary Cardona to recognize the teachers of the year from 50 different states. And it really is something we look forward. I did a eulogy today for a brilliant woman, on the former secretary of state. And I sat in the front row with two other presidents who were also there to honor her.
Joe Biden: (34:02)
And I told them what I was doing. And they all talked about how much they enjoyed the years they were here for the Teacher the Year affair. Over the past two years ago, the entire country’s has witnessed an extraordinary dedication and resolve on our nation’s teachers. Early in the pandemic, teachers and teacher’s aides had to not just be educators. You had to be tech support. You had to be moral support. You had to be health support. I mean, you had to take care of your own children in addition, and I watched how hard it was, how really hard. There was so much heroic work to help kids connect, get connected to schools and just the socialization that they were missing in so many places were so long. It’s estimated they’re five to seven months behind their education right now. The American people saw it. Because guess what? When you’re taught remotely from home, the moms and dads understood what you were doing. And they know and they realized how damn hard it is.
Joe Biden: (35:07)
I’m serious. I think it was… My mother used to say out of everything bad, something good will happen if you look hard enough for it. I think that was the upside. American people became, whoa, my goodness. And they understand what you’ve been saying for years, that you’re professional, all of you. All of you have a responsibility to make sure you have what you need. And we have a responsibility to make sure you have what you need to educate our children safely. So they have a chance, chance to achieve dreams, dreams they don’t even know they have. They don’t even know they have. That’s why I made it a priority to get educators vaccinated and reopen our schools as quickly.
Joe Biden: (35:58)
We made a historic commitment to our schools, $ 130 billion in the Rescue Plan, $130 billion. It helped us go from 50% of our schools being closed and 99% of our schools open and safe, better heating, air conditioning, ventilation systems, safer buildings. It isn’t a thriving building until it comes alive though with teachers and students. With the help of the American Rescue Plan, local governments are able to, as the state officials here can tell you in education, were able to add a record 270,000 new educators in 2021. Another 50,000 jobs, teaching jobs in the first months of 2022. In January, compared to the period before the pandemic, schools have increased their number of social workers by 65%, counselors by 17%. You’re expected to do everything. You’re expected to not only teach. You’re expected to be a guidance counselor yourself, but you’re also expected to deal with the problems that they have at home. You see it. You can see in their faces when they walk into school.
Joe Biden: (37:17)
And Jill said, just by the way they answer their questions and questions about how they’re doing, how they’re feeling, and you need help. You need social workers. You need school psychologists and psychiatrists. You need that kind of help. And the American Rescue Plan funds are especially important, now that we see the impact this pandemic exacted on our children. As I said, students lost months of learning in particularly reading and math. It’s not just academic skills they’ve fallen behind on. Teachers have seen young children struggle to interact in group settings, to manage conflict, to take turns. They got a lot of learning to make up, and we’re doing everything we can to help you. I want input from you as well, because we have a lot of teachers. We seek their input. Using the funds from the American Rescue Plan, schools are providing and expanding summer learning. Summer learning and tutoring programs to give students extra time and attention they need to catch up and develop those fundamental math and reading skills.
Joe Biden: (38:23)
You all know if you get far behind in first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh grade, it takes a lot of time to make. And if you lose your confidence, it even gets harder. So I urge more states, counties, and cities and towns to use their American Rescue Plan funding, which is in the billions of dollars, to hire more teachers, more tutors, more critical personnel in our schools. Now, we have an opportunity to make even more game changing investments for educators, students, and families. We’re in competition for leading the 21st century. Not a joke. That’s where we are right now.
Joe Biden: (39:01)
That’s where we are right now. Parenthetically, if you think about it, what was the reason why we led the world beginning around 1905, ’06 and ’07 and ’08? Because we became the first nation in the world to have universal education of one through 12 for everybody, no matter what. Without cost. Well, guess what? If we were sitting down today deciding we were going to set up an education system, raise your hand if any of you think 12 years is enough in the 21st century. Just 12 years. Things are moving too rapidly. They’re changing exponentially. As Jill said, any country that now educates us is going to out compete us. It’s that basic. We have to build the 21st century because the rest of the world isn’t waiting. We have to build for it. One of the tough images of the pandemic was children sitting in their cars with their mother or dad or older brother or sister in the McDonald’s parking lot because that’s the only way they could get on WiFi to do their homework. This is the United States of America for God’s sake. The United States of America.
Joe Biden: (40:18)
We didn’t know before. We know now. High speed internet is essential. That’s why we’re spending tens of billions of dollars to make sure that we have high speed internet available to everyone, rural America, inner city America, suburban America, throughout every single school district in America. That’s part of the whole legislation we passed in terms of infrastructure. Starting now, it’s going to create millions of jobs as well for real, but again, we’ve got to get in the 21st century. We’ve got to move. The budget I proposed, supports schools, supports students and supports you to bridge the gap between under-resourced schools and their wealthier counterparts.
Joe Biden: (41:06)
We’re proposing a $19 billion increase in title I schools, and mostly, historically in underfunded schools in our nation, we’ve got to let them catch up. That investment would more than double the current funding in title I schools. Also, proposing the largest increase in special education funding in two decades. We made the promise. We’ve never fulfilled it. We’ve got to fulfill it. Going to add another billion dollar commitment with the goal of doubling the number of social workers, school counselors, and school nurses in K through 12. By the way, thanks to the American rescue plan for making real progress toward that goal, and to support you, the educators. My budget includes $610 million increase teacher diversity, effectiveness and retention.
Joe Biden: (42:11)
As all of you know, it takes time to become a teacher, the teachers you are today, but nearly one in 10 teachers leave the profession every year with the youngest teachers being the most likely ones to leave first. We’ve got to invest in ways to keep them in the profession. This year, my administration helped over 150 public servants, including teachers get… 150,000 get school forgiveness loans for college loans Through changes we made in the public service loan forgiveness program. The last team kind of messed it up. We’ve cleared it up. No, but I really mean it. Anyway, just go to that website to learn how these changes can benefit you, and I encourage you to go to studenta.go, and you’re going to find you can have, in many of your cases, your entire student debt wiped out because you are teaching and that’s considered a vital profession. One more thing. It’s not enough to give teachers praise. We ought to give you a raise. I have to really listen to you, which I know Senator Cardona has been doing, and we should stand up for you. We should have your back. Teaching is one of the hardest jobs in this country to be able to do it well, and one of the most important. Today, there are too many politicians trying to score political points, trying to ban books, even Math books. Did you ever think, even you younger teachers, did you ever think when you’d be teaching, you’d be worrying about book burnings and banning books, all because it doesn’t fit somebody’s political agenda? American teachers have dedicated their lives to teaching our children and lifting them up. We’ve got to stop making the target of the culture wars. That’s where this is going. Let me close with this because I know a thing about teachers. I know that some of you were probably grading papers on the way here. By the way, Jill traveled with me around the world. I’d say, “Jill, leave the bank book.” By the way, how many are Math teachers? Raise your hand. She envies the hell out of you. She thinks your job’s easier. You just, you’ve got to check the answer. She teaches writing, but she gets off the plane. Am I joking? With up to 50, 60 papers she’s grading on Air Force One.
Joe Biden: (44:59)
I said, Jill. She’s walking down the hill. You think I’m kidding. I’m not kidding with you. This is deadly earnest. Many of you are trying to figure out, if you’re have class tomorrow, you may be here for tomorrow, but on Monday, are you ready for your class? Are you prepared? Do you have your lesson plan together? We always talk about these children. They’re not someone else’s children. They’re our children and they are the kite strings that literally lift our national ambitions aloft in a literal sense. Think about it. If you’ve got to do one thing to make sure the nation succeeded in the next two generations, what would you do?
Joe Biden: (45:49)
You’d want, I would say, literally have the best educated public in the world. Have our students gain confidence enough to know what they can do to reach in. We have an obligation. We have an obligation to help them teach and reach their potential. You’ve heard me say it many times about our children, but it’s true. They’re all our children. The reason you’re the teachers of the years is because you recognize that. They’re not somebody else’s children. They’re like yours when they’re in the classroom. You represent a profession that helps them gain the confidence, the confidence they believe they can do anything. Again, think of your own lives. Think of where you gained the confidence beyond your family. God willing, you’re able to. You know what else we’re finding out? We’re having a big fight about it now, but I’m going to get it done eventually or someone will.
Joe Biden: (46:49)
That is that we’ve learned now, you all know those who, if you are in a teaching profession, know that if you come from a broken home or a home with a single parent and maybe a drug problem or something, for a very poor home, you’re going to end up hearing a million words, fewer words spoken by the time you get to first grade than from a kid coming from an average middle class home. Not in different words. Just words spoken, because they’re not engaged. Also, we learned that, if in fact, you have kids go to school at three years old and four years old and five years old, you increase exponentially by 57% the likelihood they will make it no matter what their background, all the way through 12 years of school and probably on. It matters. It matters. For that and so much more that you do, you believe in these kids. I know some of them are really difficult. I get it, but you believe in them.
Joe Biden: (47:59)
You know when they know you believe in them, they believe in you. Thank you for what you do. If I get to have one profession that’s the best in the world, not a joke, it’s you I want to be the best profession in the world because you affect what this country looks like. What it’ll act like, what it’ll be like. A success or failure more than any other group of Americans, period. Thank for what you do. Keep it going. I promise you, Jill has your back and mind. Thank you very much.
Speaker 8: (48:51)
Ladies and gentlemen, please remain in your seats while the President and First Lady depart.
Speaker 9: (48:52)
Are you honored that Delaware represented, Mr. President?
Joe Biden: (48:52)
Thank you all.
Speaker 9: (48:52)
Thank you, Mr. President.
Speaker 10: (49:55)
What’s your response to [inaudible 00:49:55] from Poland?
Speaker 7: (49:55)
All right, guys. Good job. Thank you very much.