Jill Biden, The Silent Hero to The Biden Campaign
Dr. Biden is adamant about improving the education system if welcomed back to the White House
( @drbiden / Instagram)
Dr. Jill Biden does not expect to fulfill the traditional role of First Lady, and no, she doesn’t expect to be Michelle, either. Before becoming Dr. Biden, she was Jill Tracy Jacob, a proud educator with a drive to improve the education system in the United States.
If the presidential election works in favor of Biden, we can expect a significant shift in the education system, as well as getting to know Jill as the tough, unstoppable Philadelphian she really is.
Who is Jill Biden?
Dr. Jill Biden was born in Hammonton, New Jersey but grew up in the suburbs outside Philadelphia. Her father was a bank teller and her mother stayed home to raise her and her four younger sisters.
Jill has always had an independent and ambitious mindset and even got her first job as a waitress at 15.
“ I knew I wanted my own money, my own identity, my own career,” Jill told Vogue in 2008.
At 24, she acquired her degree from the University of Delaware. She then earned a master’s degree from West Chester State College and another from Villanova University. While teaching at Delaware Technical and Community College, she earned a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Delaware.
After stepping into the oval office, she couldn’t leave her passion for education behind. She became the first wife of a Vice President to continue working full time and serve alongside her husband.
Throughout her 30-year career, Jill has taught English in public schools, worked as a reading specialist and even taught at an adolescent psychiatric hospital.
Jill has managed to maintain her own professional identity separate from the glorified life of a politician’s wife. Her degrees are addressed in her maiden name, she does not keep any photos of Joe in her office and insists her students call her Dr. B.
“My standard line when students ask me if I am married to the VP is to say that I am one of his relatives,” Jill wrote in an email to a colleague. “That usually quiets them.”
Her relationship with Joe is a tale of two opposites coming together. Three years after Biden’s first wife Neilia Biden and his 1-year-old daughter Naomi passed in a car accident, leaving Biden widowed with two young boys, Joe and Jill were introduced by Joe’s brother.
Jill was still completing her undergraduate degree and was just recently divorced from her high school sweetheart and business partner Bill Stevenson —the two opened the Stone Balloon Tavern, still considered a top 100 college bar in the U.S.
She was a young, free, wide-eyed soul? interested in men who wore bell-bottoms and cloggs, a stark contrast from the fatherly, jock persona of Joe Biden.
It took five marriage proposals for Jill to say yes, and the two would come to raise Joe’s two sons, Hunter and Beau, later welcoming daughter Ashley Biden to the family.
Jill on Politics
Her views on politics are simple: She doesn’t like it.
However, she doesn’t shy away in dire situations. In 2004, when George W. Bush was running for election, Joe Biden decided to run for president. Jill strongly supported the decision because she just didn’t want Bush back in office nor the Iraq war to continue.
“I literally wore black for a week,” Jill said in an interview with The Washington Post. “I just could not believe that he won, because I felt that things were already so bad.”
Now in 2020, Jill has gone a step further and has paused her career to join the campaign, understanding the stakes of a second term with Trump.
“She’s like the adviser in chief,” said Sen. Ted Kaufman to the New York Times. “Kind of like the relationship he had with Obama, he’d be the last person in the room — that’s Jill. ”
The all or nothing attitude Jill possesses is the backbone to her success. As the election wraps up, we can expect her to resort back to her roots as a champion for equal education.
“If we get to the White House, I’m gonna continue to teach. It’s important, and I want people to value teachers and know their contributions, and lift up the profession,” Jill recently told CBS News.
Jill on Education Reform
As vice first lady under the Obama administration, Jill was asked to assist in the research behind the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 to account for an educator's perspective.
She visited colleges across the nation, reporting back to Obama about challenges, ideas and innovation — again while maintaining a full-time position as an educator. The Act modified and improved financial aid services for students in higher education to pay for tuition, books, supplies and living expenses.
In 1993, she and Joe kickstarted the Biden Breast Health initiative to teach high school girls in Delaware about proper breast health, an overlooked topic in public schools.
Jill vows to continue advocating for health, education and fight for free-tuition community colleges. She also plans to return back to teaching to directly help her community and students.
“It sounds so trite to say I make a difference, but I really feel, especially in a community college I can make a difference,” Jill said to the New York Times.
Unlike Donald Trump's education secretary Besty Devois, who is adamant about focusing on private institutions, Jill understands the issues that arise in public school environments and the immediate attention it needs.
Unless in the classroom every day, politicians alone cannot create better change for students and educators of all socio-economic backgrounds because they simply don’t specialize in that environment.
As a member of the National Education Association, the largest teacher union in the United States, Jill and NEA President Lily Garcia try to bring educators to the forefront of legislative decisions regarding American public schools.
In April, Dr. Biden invited educators to discuss and share struggles faced during the pandemic. The most notable battle is the opportunity gap between students with and without access to technology, internet connection, food or a safe home to work at.
When back-to-school season rolled around this past August, frustration grew among teachers and educators, including Jill, who predicted the implications of reopening.
“We will go back to school, but we will not go back to education as it was because all kids were not given equal access,” Jill said in the Tele-Town Hall meeting.
Dr. Biden expresses empathy and the Biden administration has promised to elect a public school teacher for education secretary.
Dr. Biden also plans to invest in safety measures for COVID-19and gun-violence, increase wages of educators, provide greater mental health services at schools, as well as tackle the zoning issues contributing to differences in education among low and high-income neighborhoods.
“We’re going to find solutions that don’t take us back to where we were, which wasn’t good enough, but take us forward into something that says now we can clearly see what equity work we have to do,” Garcia said. “To know that we have a partner in the white house who will listen to us and respect our voice, that’s what we’re going to fight for.”
Jill Biden is a silent hero. Her lifetime commitment to education is not only honorable but kick-ass. For those shying away from the polls because of Joe Biden, let's reconsider who he holds close to him. In this election, I am also voting for Jill, our potential savior to tackling the education system.
Sam is a staff writer at Rowdy Magazine. She enjoys long summer days, funk music and drinks her coffee black because she's a tough guy. You can follow her on Instagram @samanthax1999x or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.