Home Minnesota Educator First Lady Dr. Jill Biden visits Minnesota to launch “Educators for Biden” campaign

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden visits Minnesota to launch “Educators for Biden” campaign

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Fellow educator and First Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden, led a rally to formally launch the “Educators for Biden” campaign with Education Minnesota. Dr. Biden, along with Education Minnesota President Denise Specht, NEA President Becky Pringle and AFT President Randi Weingarten, spoke to members about the historic public education investments the Biden administration has made.

The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers were among President Joe Biden’s earliest and strongest supporters in 2020, and the Educators for Biden campaign aims to mobilize that support once again for his reelection—starting in Minnesota.

Minnesota educators recently demonstrated firsthand how to use their political power to create change. In 2022, educators and community supporters of public education elected a pro-public education trifecta; as a result, last year our state leaders passed landmark legislation that includes historic financial investments into public education, 12 weeks of paid family medical leave, important steps forward on pension reform and paid training for education support professionals. Now, state and national leaders are hoping to build on that momentum to reelect pro-public education and labor candidates in November.

The First Lady’s speech highlighted her personal connection as an educator and union member, as well as the Biden administration’s priorities for public education. Dr. Biden spoke about the difficulty of teaching during the pandemic and praised educators for stepping up in the face of unprecedented challenges: “Your efforts were extraordinary, but they weren’t surprising, because teaching is a calling and all of you answered that call. You deserve a president who recognizes your service.”

Education Minnesota President Denise Specht spoke about the shared values of our organization and the Biden administration: “We are a state of educators who are ready to fight for the promise of public education for all students, from their first day in preschool to their last day of college.”

NEA President Becky Pringle highlighted the contrast between the former president and the current one. “We can’t forget what happened under that president,” she said. “But we also can’t forget all that’s happened under this one. President Biden and Vice President Harris are the strongest champions of public education, of educators, and of the labor movement that we have ever seen in the White House.”

AFT President Randi Weingarten echoed this sentiment and reiterated the president’s support for labor unions, describing how he is the first president in history to walk a picket line with striking workers. “We have a President and a First Lady who not only share these aspirations, but work every day to make them a reality,” Weingarten said.

The Biden administration’s historic investments into students and educators include granting over $1 billion in debt relief and dramatically expanding Public Service Loan Forgiveness, or PSLF, to ease the crushing burden of student loan debt; passing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to ensure safer schools for educators and taking executive action to expand background checks for weapons purchases; dramatically increasing funding for mental health counselors; and providing funds for universal school meals.

Education Minnesota-Osseo President Ternisha Burroughs shared how she has benefited from the Biden administration’s student debt relief programs. A math teacher, Burroughs tried for 15 years to receive loan forgiveness; however, because of the red tape and technical requirements imposed by prior administrations, she was never successful in her application. Under the Biden Administration’s expanded eligibility guidelines for PSLF, Burroughs was finally able to have all her debt forgiven last summer.

Burroughs said she is supporting President Biden because “every teacher and every public servant has it better off under Joe Biden.” This sentiment was shared by Education Minnesota Aspiring Educators President Caitlin Efta. “It was wonderful to meet our First Lady,” Efta said. “I had the opportunity to talk to her about the paid student teaching bill EMAE is working to pass. She was really engaged in the issue—asking to learn more and offering her support—and it meant a lot to speak with a leader whose actions align with their words.”

The First Lady concluded her remarks by encouraging educators to “vote like democracy is on the line—because it is.”

There are several offices on the ballot for the Nov. 5 election, including the president, one of Minnesota’s U.S. senators, all of Minnesota’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives and all of Minnesota’s state House members. To learn more and stay up to date on the latest election information, visit www.edmnvotes.org.

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