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President Joe Biden defended teachers Wednesday, decrying Republican-led efforts in some states to ban books and bar sexually explicit or overly politically correct curriculum.
‘Today, there are too many politicians trying to score political points banning books,’ Biden said in the East Room as he hosted the Teachers of the Year. ‘All because it doesn’t fit somebody’s political agenda.’
He added of teachers, ‘We have got to stop making them the target of the culture wars.’
In comments that quickly incensed conservatives online, Biden told the group representing the best reachers in the nation, ‘They are all our children.’
‘They are not somebody’s else children. They’re like yours when they’re in the classroom,’ the president said.
President Joe Biden defended teachers Wednesday, decrying Republican-led efforts in some states to ban books and bar sexually explicit or overly politically correct curriculum
President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden and 2022 National Teacher of the Year Kurt Russell applaud the 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year during an event Wednesday in the East Room
For most of his speech, Biden talked to the teachers about the ones in his life who helped him overcome his stutter.
‘I wonder how I got here. I got here because of my parents and my teachers,’ Biden said in a long, heart-felt deviation from his prepared remarks. ‘That idea is exemplified by the national teacher of the year.’
The president and First Lady Jill Biden, who continues to teach English at a community college in suburban Washington, cheered Ohio history teacher Kurt Russell, the 2022 national teacher of the year, and finalists for the award who gathered from each state.
‘Teaching is not what Jill does, it´s who she is, like most of you,’ the president said, before telling the crowd about his problem as a child speaking – especially in class or otherwise publicly – ‘when I stuttered, everyone thinks you’re stupid. Totally incompetent.’
Biden has talked openly about battling a childhood stutter in the past, including while running for president in 2020. But he stressed on Wednesday the importance of teachers in helping him with that effort.
President Joe Biden (right) shakes hands with 2022 National Teacher of the Year Kurt Russell (left) during the 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year event in the East Room
‘I have teachers, I can name the ones through grade school, high school, even college,’ the president said. ‘I didn’t really beat my stutter – and still occasionally I do (stutter) – until I took a speech debate class in college just to force myself to be able to stand up.’
Russell summed up his profession by saying, ‘Each student needs a champion, no matter what the circumstance are.’
That echoed the sentiments of the first lady, who said of great teachers, ‘it’s not the curriculum or the classroom tactics, it´s that smile that tells students that they don´t have to be afraid to answer out loud.’
‘It’s the calm in your voice that can still the wild horses running through their hearts,’ she added. ‘It’s the way that you know that, sometimes, “I’m fine” means everything is wrong.’
When Jill Biden talked about teachers changing lives ‘student by student,’ her voice began to crack, before she laughed and said ‘Now I’m getting emotional.’