At the White House on Wednesday, President Biden told a group of teachers that students are “like yours” when they’re in the classroom.
During the annual National and State Teachers of the Year award ceremony held at the White House, the President talked about the heroic work of teachers. But the reason they were teachers of the year, he said, was that they completely took possession of the kids in the classroom.
“We always talk about ‘these children.’ They’re not someone else’s children. They’re our children,” the President said.
He continued, “The reason you are the teachers of the year is because you recognize that. They’re not somebody else’s children. They’re like yours when they’re in the classroom.”
The President went on to share his disbelief over books being challenged recently, accusing certain politicians of scoring “political points.”
“Today, there are too many politicians trying to score political points, trying to ban books—even math books,” he said. “I mean, did you ever think—even you younger teachers—did you ever think, when you’d be teaching, that you’d be worried about book burnings and banning books, all because it doesn’t fit somebody’s political agenda?”
According to nonprofit PEN America, more than a thousand books have been banned in various libraries and classrooms around the nation. Many of these books address sexuality, systemic racial oppression, and LGBTQ+ issues.
As Biden referenced, even math books have been removed from school curriculum, such as 54 books that the Florida Department of Education recently deemed “problematic.”
The award winner of the White House’s teacher of the year event, Kurt Russell, actually teaches on the challenged subjects. Russell teaches elective courses in African American history along with topics involving race, gender, and oppression.
During the ceremony, Russell said that it’s critical for students to see themselves represented in course material.
“Students must see themselves in the classroom and the curriculum in order to empower and engage,” Russell stated. “That’s why I created courses that allow students to feel value. Courses that deal with women’s rights, gay rights and also a survey of Black history. It’s important that my students see themselves as I see them—with unlimited potential and full of gifts.”
Biden reiterated the hard work of teachers, and said that they shouldn’t be the “target” of the culture wars.
“American teachers have dedicated their lives to teaching our children and lifting them up,” the President said. “We got to stop making them the target of the culture wars. That’s where this is going.”
Critics slammed Biden’s comments on Twitter.
“God gave kids to parents – NOT the government,” tweeted Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt.
“No, Joe, they are not ‘somebody else’s children.’ They are OUR children,” American Principles tweeted.
Biden’s statements have been compared to what former Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe said on the campaign trail during a debate.
“I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decisions,” McAuliffe said at the time. “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
What do you think about the president’s comments?