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Dr. Jill Biden will push for a debt-free community college as first lady: 'It's who she is'

The to-be first lady has a lot of experience teaching at the community college level and will use that to implement changes.

Dr. Jill Biden will push for a debt-free community college as first lady: 'It's who she is'
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15: Dr. Jill Biden speaks onstage during the 2017 GLSEN Respect Awards on May 15, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for GLSEN)

Dr. Jill Biden has been involved in the field of education all her life and she's already announced that she's going to continue teaching after becoming the first lady in January. The to-be first lady has been teaching at the community college level for years and an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College since 2009. She taught at Delaware Technical Community College for 15 years prior to that. A source close to Jill Biden says she'll advocate for debt-free community college. Dr. Martha Kanter has known Jill Biden for more than a decade and also worked with the 69-year-old while serving as undersecretary of education in the Obama administration. “That is what she would like to see. We have often talked about community colleges as the unsung heroes,” said Kanter before adding that Jill Biden has strived “to really help people understand the value proposition and the return on investment and why it’s important,” reported Yahoo News. Even during her stint as a second lady, she had voiced her support and advocated for community colleges. 

WILMINGTON, DE - NOVEMBER 24: President-elect Joe Biden, and wife, Dr. Jill Biden, depart the Queen Theater after introducing key foreign policy and national security nominees and appointments on November 24, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. As President-elect Biden waits to receive official national security briefings, he is announcing the names of top members of his national security team to the public. Calls continue for President Trump to concede the election as the transition proceeds. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)


“Teaching has always been more than just a job to her — it’s who she is,” said Biden’s spokesperson, Michael LaRosa. She cited her grandmother as an inspiration during a 2015 speech before the Community College National Legislative Summit. Her grandmother had taught at an 'old-fashioned one-room schoolhouse' and Jill Biden kept her grandmother’s school bell as a treasured heirloom. “Teaching is my life’s work. I teach because I love seeing the difference that I hope to make in my students’ lives," said Biden at the address. "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," she added. Jill Biden has graduate degrees from West Chester University, Villanova University, and the University of Delaware. It took her 15 years to finish her own education, which included studying at night while raising her children.


Dr. Martha Kanter believes Jill Biden's experience in community colleges makes her a critical voice. “She’s ... knowledgeable about the challenges,” reasoned Kanter. “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.” The to-be first lady is likely to advocate for debt-free community college and military families. She had also promised that students including nontraditional, older learners can attend community colleges for up to two years without having to spend their own money. Joe Biden had also promised to make all public colleges and universities tuition-free for students whose families earn less than $125,000. This will be in addition to a suite of education grants with a focus on historically Black colleges and universities and institutions dedicated to the Native American community. 



She will be the first to work while serving as the first lady. "I hope so. I would love to. If we get to the White House, I'm going to continue to teach," Jill Biden told Rita Braver on CBS Sunday Morning. "I want people to value teachers and know their contributions and to lift up the profession." Jill Biden juggled her career as a teacher while serving as the second lady during Joe Biden's two terms as Vice President from 2009-2017. 

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 4: Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, speaks at the Resilience and Food Security in Changing Climate Forum at the National Academy of Sciences as part of the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit on August 4, 2014 in Washington, DC. The event brings together U.S. and African government leaders, members of African and U.S. civil society and the diaspora, and private sector leaders, focusing on using the knowledge and experience of citizens and civil society to solve the key challenges of our time. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)


A former Biden staffer who previously worked with Jill Biden believes she'll have an informal but crucial role in advising her husband. “She’s been a pretty great sounding board throughout his career. 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,” said the former staffer, reported The Huffington Post.

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