Families & the Community

Jill Biden: The Teacher-Parent Partnership Can Be ‘Powerful’

By Libby Stanford — June 17, 2022 2 min read
First lady Jill Biden speaks at the 125th Anniversary Convention of the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) in National Harbor, Md., Friday, June 17, 2022.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Two years into a pandemic-induced campaign for “parents’ rights” in schools, first lady Jill Biden is calling for stronger partnerships between educators and families.

“From reopening schools to class curriculum, we’ve been told that parents and teachers are at odds,” Biden said at the 125th National Parent Teacher Association convention Friday. “But as I visit schools and I meet with families, that’s not what I’ve seen.”

Biden, a community college teacher who will be entering her 38th year of teaching in the fall, used Friday’s speech as an opportunity to rebuke the notion that parents and teachers are on opposite sides of education issues.

Over the course of the pandemic, parent protests over mask mandates, curriculum decisions, and book selections have made headlines for their increasing ferocity. They’ve led to arguments at school board meetings, new state laws like Florida’s parent rights law, and a proposed “Parents Bill of Rights Act” from one member of the U.S. Senate.

A mother and grandmother as well as an educator, Biden said she’s been “frustrated by those who have tried to divide” parents and teachers in the past few years.

“Parents, we know that we are our children’s first teachers, and, educators, we choose this path because we love what we do and who we teach,” Biden said. “Together, we can lead the change that our children need.”

The speech came days after the U.S. Department of Education announced new plans for a National Parents and Families Engagement Council, an effort to bring more parent voices into both local and national decisions. The council will be tasked with helping local schools and school districts connect with families when developing plans for COVID-19 recovery.

“I hear it so much, parents who are worried that their kids are having a hard time catching up after learning virtually; educators who tell me that they’re burned out; students who are dealing with the trauma of loss and grief,” Biden said.

The first lady added that partnerships between parents and educators are crucial to the success of COVID-19 recovery as well as to recent efforts to improve school safety.

A call for parents and teachers to lead the fight for school safety

Friday’s speech also served as an opportunity for Biden to push for gun safety measures.

The first lady described her experience laying white roses next to the crosses that represented 19 students and two teachers who were killed in a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24. She also spoke of her own experience as a teacher, imagining herself being placed in that situation.

“I’ve wondered over the years if my students would be the next heartbreaking headline,” she said. “All of you in here who are in the classroom know this.”

Biden called on Congress to pass “common-sense gun laws” like recent legislation proposed by a bipartisan group of senators. If passed, the bipartisan deal would ban “assault weapons,” create an enhanced review process for gun owners 21 or younger, prohibit people convicted of domestic violence from purchasing guns, subject gun sales to background checks, and provide resources to help states and tribes create “red-flag laws.”

Strong partnerships between teachers and parents are an important piece in the fight to prevent future school shootings, Biden said.

“Parents and teachers, all of us, we need to fight now for the lives of our children and the safety of our schools,” she said. “This partnership of parents and educators is powerful.”

Related Tags:


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
Academic Integrity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
As AI writing tools rapidly evolve, learn how to set standards and expectations for your students on their use.
Content provided by Turnitin
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Reading & Literacy Webinar
The Science of Reading: Tools to Build Reading Proficiency
The Science of Reading has taken education by storm. Learn how Dr. Miranda Blount transformed literacy instruction in her state.
Content provided by hand2mind

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Families & the Community Opinion Let's Pay Parents to Help With Learning Recovery
Schools would need to communicate clearly to parents about learning gaps and carefully direct their efforts, writes a policy director.
Chad Aldeman
4 min read
Illustration of a mother standing next to her son at the computer.
Alyona Zueva/iStock/Getty
Families & the Community How to Help Parents Understand Students' Academic Needs Post-Pandemic
Transparency and authentic engagement can get everyone on the same page.
3 min read
Families & the Community Why Aren’t Parents More Worried About Declines in Student Achievement?
Most parents think their students are doing OK, which could stymie districts’ recovery efforts.
6 min read
Image of a parent helping with homework at home.
Families & the Community How to Respond to Parents' CRT Complaints
Four experts have advice for district leaders on how to craft their messages on diversity, equity, and inclusion lessons and initiatives.
5 min read
People protest outside the offices of the New Mexico Public Education Department's office on Nov. 12, 2021, in Albuquerque. The education department proposed changes to the social studies curriculum that critics describe as a veiled attempt to teach critical race theory. Supporters say the new curriculum, which includes ethnic studies, is "anti-racist."
People protest outside the offices of the New Mexico Public Education Department on Nov. 12, 2021, in Albuquerque. The protesters were reacting to proposed changes to the social studies curriculum that they said were a veiled attempt to teach critical race theory.
Cedar Attanasio/AP