Much has been written about the offensiveness of the Wall Street Journal’s Epstein opinion piece on Dr. Jill Biden. It lacks respect for Dr. Biden, a veteran teacher, deeply committed to her profession and community college students, but it’s also meant to ridicule teaching and public education.
First, it’s never wise to criticize intellectual pursuit, to deride a person for bettering themselves, for improving their knowledge and understanding of the world. This is especially true of teachers who prepare students for their futures.
Belittling University Education Schools
Dr. Biden’s criticism indirectly attacks the University of Delaware and their education school, a public university. Tucker Carlson said, Dr. Jill has an education degree from some school in Delaware, and you’re supposed to find that highly impressive.
Colleges of Education could always improve, but for years nonprofits like Relay Graduate School of Education, and more, have been jockeying to replace them.
By disparaging teachers’ main producers, our public universities, and these schools are in danger of closing; they promote a privatization agenda cast by corporate America.
Five Weeks of Training v. A Doctorate
These accusations against Dr. Biden are a push to get rid of teachers, a profession dominated by females, or reduce the profession to Teach For America types, a revolving door of volunteers, who, while well-meaning, rarely commit to teaching as a professional career.
TFA involves a five-seven week coaching session, used by those who want to privatize public education. TFA Corps members move into educational leadership positions while never gaining the knowledge necessary to understand children and how they learn.
Parents Want Good Teachers
Cheapening the teaching profession drives down wages and demeans teaching, making it look like little training is required, certainly not a doctorate!
The reality is that the world revolves around teachers and how they teach, which is getting the spotlight, especially now during this pandemic.
Parents understand the importance of good teachers. They want their students to have knowledgeable teachers who care.
Those Who Aren’t Teachers
Those who hate public education don’t want knowledgeable teachers who will question their agenda. They know that when teachers are committed to their students and study their profession, they’ll see through their terrible plans.
Teachers with job security speak out against No Child Left Behind and Common Core. They question the Every Student Succeeds Act, condemn high-stakes testing, and fight for developmentally appropriate student-centered schools.
Remember when Bill Gates said that teachers didn’t need to further their education and get a master’s degree? The Gates’ Teacher Effectiveness Initiative turned out to be an abysmal failure.
Studying Your Specialty
Note the destructive analysis of Dr. Biden’s study, “Student Retention at the Community College Level: Meeting Students’ Needs,” tearing her scholarliness down, finding errors in her work. Mistakes can be found in any study.
Dr. Biden’s work was about helping community college students. Most education doctorates study an area of interest they believe will make a difference and provide insight into their work.
This takes time and effort. Colleges of Education often don’t have much financial support. Teachers often teach, take night courses, and juggle responsibilities. They might also incur student debt, which they pay off for years. They do all of this to learn how to be better at their profession.
What to Expect?
The fact that Dr. Jill Biden teaches students at a community college, a woman, a teacher, who will now be the first lady, makes those who hate public education and teachers nervous.
But it’s anyone’s guess how or if the Biden administration will push back on the harm being done to schools due to the push for school privatization and the teaching profession’s deprofessionalization. Wealthy, powerful people have a grip on the nation and public schools and aren’t easy to push back.
But teachers need to follow Dr. Biden’s lead. They should rise above the fray. Students are what matter the most, and teaching is a rewarding career.
If interested in attending college and becoming a teacher, do it! Learn all you can about it. Get that master’s degree! If it’s affordable, and you have the time, get a doctorate from an accredited and well-regarded university education school! If you love your work, don’t let anyone tear you down. In that regard, Dr. Jill Biden is a shining example.
Teachers are Loved and Respected!
For teachers struggling during this time, know that far more people see what important work you do.
I’m hearing from many parents about how teachers are performing heroically in difficult and scary times to provide comfort, humor, empathy, and instruction. Teachers are always superheroes. Now they seem to have even another gear of awesomeness. They are the best of #WhatUnitesUs
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) December 18, 2020
Here are three additional recommended articles about this topic.
It’s DOCTOR Jill Jacobs-Biden by Dr. Michael Flanagan
Dr. Jill Biden is Fine With Me by Mercedes Schneider
Jill Biden’s Doctorate: Let’s Improve Education Instead of Insulting Educators by Jeff Frank
Stephen Abney says
A man who did not go to graduate school snobs that an academic doctorate is nothing. I can think of many positives for Dr Jill’s accomplishment.
1) it sets an example for her students. Many community college students are non-traditional. They are not 18-year-old full-time students straight out of high school, but rather, 35 with children and jobs.
2) it enhances the reputation and status of a community college when its professors have doctorates
3) in many academic settings, additional education is rewarded. (Unfortunately, my state of Florida does not believe in rewarding public school teachers who receive masters degrees.) There are often career incentives for the individual, in addition to prestige and self-actualization.
Nancy Bailey says
Yes, I agree with your opinion on Epstein.
And about Florida, I’ve been there. I received my PhD from FSU. My district denied me the $2,000 extra because they said a degree in administration and supervision was out of my teaching assignment. I was a resource teacher for students with learning disabilities. My study centered around resource teacher support for general ed. teachers with students who had disabilities. My teacher friends with master’s degrees in this area were also denied the salary increase. However, later I moved to Seminole County and they did come through. Not sure if that’s still the case. I hope so. Thank you for mentioning this.
Paul Bonner says
Throughout the history of civilization, there have been leaders who have demeaned teachers and the teaching profession. Much of this has been due to the fear of how knowledge would dilute the power of said leaders. In this country this has been especially evident from the legal attacks on academic freedom to the dilution of tenure. Dr. Biden represents hope that perhaps we can overcome such treachery to the benefit of educational equality. The battle is as fierce as ever, articulated by those like Epstein and the corporate disrupters, but the victory remains possible as long as there are vocal advocates who see knowledge as a benefit to a civil society.
Nancy Bailey says
Thank you, Paul. Well said. I appreciate that you mentioned tenure. I started to add but the post was too long. It’s a critical point.
ciedie aech says
Thanks for this one Nancy!
Nancy Bailey says
Your welcom, Ciedi. Thank you.
Patrick Wiltshire says
Suggested modification to title: “….and women”.
Fred Bartleson says
I was a classroom teacher for thirty years, and a graduate level instructor at FIT for four years. I earned an M. Ed four years after my B.A.
I then embarked on post master’s work. I completed 35 semester hours, but at UCF, 90 semester hours were required. With both teaching and working toward an Ed. D, I would have earned a doctorate about the time I retired. So, considering the cost/benefit vs accomplishment/honor…the former won out.
What sour grapes from Epstein. An adjunct instructor with a B.A.
One does not criticize those who have excelled beyond himself. Pure green jealousy, with a thinly veiled reactionary tone.
Maynard G Hirsch says
I am a teacher and It is not an attack on teachers. It is an attack on teacher education. Look at some of Tucker Carlson’s points. “She describes an average class of students at a community college called Delaware Tech… pay close attention to the math: ‘Three quarters of the class will be Caucasian, one quarter of the class will be African American; one seat will hold a Latino and the remaining students will be filled with students of Asian descent or non-resident aliens.’ In other words, somehow Dr. Biden accounted for all five quarters of the class, which actually isn’t easy.” “The administration may want to consider in future planning: …an eight week study week.”
If we want teachers to be appreciated as much as they should be, we should make sure that our training has the rigor that it should have.
If I made the same kind of errors when I did my Master’s thesis, I never would have been awarded my degree. Not only does this shed a bad light on teachers, it sheds a bad light on our training. Biden’s advisor should be ashamed of his/her self. To the teacher haters who have read her thesis, this is just ammunition to support their thinking.
If we want teachers to be valued, we have to begin with their training.
Nancy Bailey says
I glanced over the mistakes in her thesis. A lot of them were left out hyphens. So your master’s thesis was perfect. I’m so glad.
You do know that this push to disparage university ed. schools, which’s huge at this time, will open the door to nonprofits like Relay Graduate School and Teach for America. These groups have questionable and minimal training. I have never stated that ed. schools can’t be improved, only that we must have them if we expect to consider teaching as a true profession.