Earlier this week the Department of Education hosted an event at a local high school in Washington, DC. The purpose of the event, which featured Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and the second lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden was to promote the new FAFSA application. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has been compulsory for any students wishing to receive financial aide or subsidized loans.
The event was well scripted, except for a Biden gaffe. But, in this case, it was not the Vice President who opened his mouth and inserted his foot, it was his wife, Dr. Jill Biden.
Jill Biden has been in the academic circles for close to three decades. She has been an educator for over 29 years. She currently teaches at Northern Virginia Community college, and she has made education one of her focal points in this administration. In fact, Jill Biden regularly travels on behalf of the administration and to visit schools and universities across the nation.
So, it is with this background, it was altogether appropriate the she should be asked her opinion on the elimination of the school voucher program by the Obama Administration. What was not fitting, however, was her erratic befuddled response. To which she responded, “You know, I really haven’t followed it, I’ve been really busy…”
In 2004, the United States Congress, passed what became known as the “District of Columbia School Choice Incentive Act of 2003”, a program that was funded through the federal government and provided scholarships to low-income students in the nation’s capital. Over 1,900 students have benefited from this program, which allows students to attend private schools of their choice instead of public schools.
Recent studies conducted by the Department of Education have proven that this program was working, and continues to help low-income students improve their scores in a wide variety of subjects. Despite its success and its support by 75% of the district residents, the National Education Association, a large education union, has pushed the current liberal congress to strip funding provisions that would have allowed for the programs continuation.
Considering this has been a hotly contested issue in DC, it is shocking that Dr. Jill Biden would be clueless on the topic. Top administration officials, including the President, have publicly stated their opinion on this subject. But how is it possible for someone who bills herself as a leader in education to have been too busy to follow the debate? Perhaps Dr. Biden should go back to school herself and catch up on some vital reading.