Dr. Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, met her husband on a blind date while attending the University of Delaware. After graduation, she started her career as a High School English teacher and has spent the better part of three decades crafting young minds in America’s classrooms.
In addition to her duties as the Second Lady of the United States, Dr. Biden still teaches full-time at a Community College in suburban Washington, DC. HC had the opportunity to chat with Dr. Biden on Thursday about her husband’s and President Barack Obama’s campaign, education reform and women’s rights. Here’s what she had to say!
Her Campus: Education and jobs have been fundamental principles of the President’s campaign, but one thing we’re seeing is that a lot of students use education, especially graduate school, as a fallback when they can’t land a job. I’d love to hear about how you go about balancing wanting to use government resources for higher education, but at the same time, looking to reinvigorate the job market?
Dr. Biden: We have to look at where we started four years ago and where the economy was. When we came into this administration we were in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and slowly over the past four years we keep gaining private sector jobs and unemployment is going down.
The fact remains that as the economy improves, more jobs will be available. I know that one of the values of this administration is education and look at all we have done for education: we’ve increased—we’ve doubled the funding for the Pell grants to make college more affordable because, in this world, you need a college education. We’ve also reformed the student loan process to make it easier for students when they come out of school to repay those loans and of course, community college is making it easier. We’ve made that one of the cornerstones of our education policy so that students can easily transfer from two-year schools into a four-year college.
We're making college affordable. We're making student loans affordable, so we're pushing education as a way for people to get jobs, because when this economy gets back on track, as we're trying to do, as we've been trying to do, then students will get jobs.
Her Campus: Dr. Biden, you talked about student loans and Pell grants. We have a U.S. Senate candidate in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, who is getting criticized for her $350,000 salary. We also see a lot of talk from the President about having people pay their fair share. As a professor yourself, if student loans continue to go up, is there some way to solve the problems associated with attending college without utilizing the Federal Government?
Maybe controlling the salaries of administrators and professors, tying them into debt, or some other creative solution?
Dr. Biden: I'm not really a policy maker, but certainly as a teacher with what I see, is that we are trying to make student loans more accessible. I don't determine what policies or what salaries professors make, but through the student loan process we're really trying to make it affordable for students to get an education, and then once they get out of school, to make it affordable for them to be able to pay those loans.
I know I'm focusing on community colleges here, but I am a community college professor, I see how for me, coming into this administration was a dream come true, because I saw the value of a community college education, and how students could start there, how it's a good bargain, it's so much more affordable than a four-year college. So I see it from the other end, I don't see it from the administration of a college's point, offering students these high salaries. Certainly my salary isn’t commensurate with most college teachers, and I'm not in Massachusetts, I don't know about Elizabeth Warren's salary.
Her Campus: Can you tell us how the Affordable Care Act is going to impact young women, and if this act is successful, do you think that it could mean that something like Planned Parenthood is phased out, because those services are now covered elsewhere?
Dr. Biden: One of the things that Joe and Barack believe is that women should be able to make their own decisions about their own bodies. Insurance companies can no longer charge women more than they charge men, which has been in the past. For women of my generation, I mean look at the preexisting conditions. Last night, here at the Vice President's residence we had a reception for breast cancer survivors, and so many of them, so many of the survivors said that they could not get insurance because they had breast cancer, because when they went to get insurance, they were turned down. And they went to insurance company after insurance company, and they were paying extraordinary fees for services and medicine and so forth. So, with the Affordable Care Act, that's one of the great things. Not just for women, for all Americans. One of the things now, and this ties into education, is that our children can stay on their insurance until they're 26-years-old, and that's huge. I know our daughter had to go off our insurance when she got out of college, and pick it up herself and it was a lot. It was really expensive for her, and she's a social worker, so it was really tough for her to pay that.
So much is at stake here in this election. We're looking at two very clear choices. I think if you look at what Joe and Barack have done for education, and what they're going to continue to do, and then what they're going to do for women, and what they will continue to do... And don't forget about the Supreme Court. Look at how things are going to change if we get super conservatives on that court. I mean, I know that women of my generation fought so hard for Roe v. Wade, access to contraception and equal rights, I mean, it was such a big deal in the sixties and the seventies. I get why—We can't go back, we just can't go back. People have to get out there and vote, because really, we're going to back to the fifties, honestly, if the other team is elected, and we've got to keep moving forward. We're moving in the right direction, I feel the momentum. I've been traveling around the country, and things are going well.
What do you think of Dr. Biden’s answers? Who will you be voting for on Election Day? Leave a comment!