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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

'Our nation's children are all our children'

"There's no such thing as someone else's child," said President Joe Biden in honoring the new Teacher of the Year, an Oklahoma math teacher. "Our nation's children are all our children. . . . As I often say, you teachers hold the kite strings to lift our national ambitions aloft."

That raised the hackles of those who do not want to "co-parent with the government." (Also, kite strings control kites; they don't lift them.)

Jill Biden, a community college English instructor, rubbed it in by saying, “There’s no divide between those who love our students and those who teach them because we all do both."

Later in the speech, Biden criticized Republican politicians and parents' rights advocates for trying to remove curricula and school library books that "promote radical gender and racial ideologies," writes Caroline Downey in National Review.

“There are too many politicians trying to score political points trying to ban books, even math books," said Biden, who suggested teachers are "worried about book burnings."

Democrat Terry McAuliffe apparently lost the race for governor of Virginia when he said, "I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach," Downey notes. Republican Glenn Youngkin responded, "I believe parents should be in charge of their kids’ education.” He's now the governor.

"Since Youngkin’s sweeping victory in the state, multiple Republicans have followed his model, making parental rights a major policy priority," writes Downey. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis "recently signed the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits instruction of sexual education and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, deferring to parents to decide how and when to teach their children about such sensitive topics."

I think people disagree about how to teach about racism, but a large majority of parents do not want their kids taught they're not actually boys or girls, nor do they want graphic books showing oral sex in the school library.

In addition to the political downside of Biden's rhetoric, there's another issue. Teachers have lots of students. They do not "love" their students the way parents love their children, as Jill Biden suggests. That's not their job. We need to stop asking teachers to be therapists and social workers and parents to other people's children. If they teach the children well, that's plenty.

Teacher of the Year Rebeckah Peterson, the daughter of Iranian-Swedish medical missionaries, is a relentlessly positive person who's focusing on elevating teacher's inspiring stories, according to a profile by Linda Jacobson in The 74. A high school math teacher in Tulsa, Peterson is one of the administrators of the One Good Thing blog, where teachers post reflections from their day. There's a lot there about the joy of helping students understand math.

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