Dr. Jill Biden, in a screenshot of her speech at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
Dr. Jill Biden, in a screenshot of her speech at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

Dr. Jill Biden has been an educator for decades and plans to still teach as First Lady. Thursday, she heard stories from worried moms and educators like her.

BIRMINGHAM, MI — Lori Goldman knows she’s lucky. 

At 61, and with 12-year-old triplets attending school virtually, Goldman relies heavily on knowing her neighborhood and the resources she has at home in order to feel comfortable leaving her kids alone when she has to go to work as a realtor. 

But being a realtor, she also understands how people not as fortunate as her are put in troubling situations by the pandemic, both from job losses and from having to either personally watch their children through the day or hire a childcare specialist. But the alternative is equally worrying — potentially exposing kids to a deadly virus. 

“My community was very divided about whether to go to school or whether to be taught virtually,” she said.

“The problem was there was a vacuum in our leadership. Not in our governor, not in our state, but in our national leadership and this administration that did not provide a blueprint or even the feeling of safety to make a decision one way or the other.”

Lori Goldman

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Goldman believes with Joe Biden as president, a more coherent national plan would help make that decision easier, and help manage the pandemic to get children back to normal schooling faster. 

Managing the virus is central to Biden’s school strategy. National safety guidelines, robust contact tracing and limiting potential exposure will help enable a safer return to schools. Until the pandemic is managed to that point, though, Biden addresses the realities facing schools today as President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have largely ignored them.

Trump and DeVos pushed hard for a return to in-person education while American management of the pandemic is worsening rather than improving, and as The ‘Gander reported DeVos is mandating normal standardized testing. 

READ MORE: Betsy DeVos Wants Students Taking Standardized Tests During the Pandemic. Educators Think That’s a Bad Idea.

Biden, however, drew attention to the gap between different school districts in providing the equipment and internet connections needed to do remote learning until in-person education is safer. 

And Biden has a strong connection to education. Dr. Jill Biden intends to be the first First Lady to actively work outside the White House, continuing her career as an educator. She did that as Second Lady as well, also being the first to do so. She told Michiganders Thursday that she, like other educators, starts every year excited at the promise of the semester to come.

“This year, for educators and parents and students, those feelings of excitement have turned into anxiety,” Dr. Biden said. “All summer long, friends and family and educators have been asking me the same things. 

“Will the schools reopen? Should we send our kids if they do? And how am I supposed to juggle working and overseeing my kids’ learning? How do I keep my family safe?”

Dr. Jill Biden

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Dr. Biden pointed out that across Michigan parents like Goldman have had to navigate those questions without national guidance. And those situations are made worse, asGoldman mentioned, in households that aren’t so lucky — in low income households where, she said, nearly half of Michigan’s school children reside.

“I know that there’s so many educators and parents that are losing sleep with worry and anxiety right now,” she said. “I don’t feel like education should be such a political issue but that’s what it’s turned into. And it’s not fair. It’s not fair to America’s children that it’s come to this.”