Joe Biden says teachers ‘just don’t deserve praise’

Joe Biden says teachers ‘just don’t deserve praise’

WASHINGTON: Speaking to the nation’s largest teachers’ union, President Joe Biden on Friday said the pandemic has given America’s parents the “ultimate lesson” on the challenges of the teaching profession. But more than that, he said, the past year has proved that teachers across America deserve higher salaries.
“You deserve not only praise, but praise,” Biden said at the annual meeting of the National Education Association in Washington. “Every parent in this country, who has spent the last year educating their children at home, understands that you deserve a raise.”
Biden made the case by selling his proposed legislative priorities and next year’s budget, which includes $20 billion in new funding aimed at prompting states to raise teacher salaries. A close ally of teacher unions, the president described teachers as “the most important component of America’s future”.
Biden and First Lady Jill Biden commented at the mostly empty Washington Convention Center while union members watched virtually. Biden is the first president in recent history to address the Labor group, whose 3 million members include his wife, a longtime community college professor.
A year later, in which some teacher unions were vilified for slowing their return to the classroom, the president and his wife had nothing but praise. Jill Biden called teachers heroes who adapted overnight to support students and families.
“You talked about safely reopening schools and more student support,” she said. “You ran families with patience, compassion and care in the darkest year of modern history. And you did it all while you were concerned about the health and education and safety of your families.”
The president mostly used speech to push his proposals. He made the case for a bipartisan infrastructure deal, including plans to improve broadband access. He said the problem was rectified last year as many children struggled to access remote classes offered by their schools.
He promoted his American Family Plan, which would offer two years of free community college to all Americans, as well as two years of preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds. And he made further investments for teachers, including a proposal to double the amount of federal grants for aspiring teachers and boost career training for current teachers.
Both of the nation’s major teachers’ unions endorsed Biden as a presidential candidate, and they have maintained a close relationship with him since his election. Introducing Biden, NEA President Becky Pringle commended Biden for nominating former teacher and principal Miguel Cardona to head the Department of Education.
Some Republicans accused Biden of being too close to powerful unions, saying he should have taken stronger action to pressure teachers to instruct them individually. And some said his goal of reopening most primary and secondary schools within 100 days – a goal he achieved in May – was not ambitious enough.
Biden addressed the Union days before the Fourth of July holiday that he said should be celebrated as the “summer of freedom” as the nation recovers from the coronavirus. He drew attention to a recent survey conducted by the teachers’ union which found that 84 percent of its members had been vaccinated. But he also awaited challenges as schools work to overcome the pandemic.
“On Sunday we will celebrate our independence as a nation, as well as our progress against the virus,” he said. “In the days to come, we have another chance to start, the beginning of a stronger, fairer education system. But it can’t happen without you.”

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