Vice-President Joe Biden Visits Florida Educators

October 28, 2011

Vice-President Joe Biden, Photo by Wendy L. Doromal © 2011

As an elected delegate to the Florida Educators Association Delegate Assembly, I was able to catch up with some old friends, attend a Human Rights Banquet and be recharged with inspiring words from passionate and rousing speakers. Being with 1,000 like-thinking people is validating and motivating, especially for people like myself who spend too many long hours working in isolation.

Notable speakers were Lily Eskelen, the Vice President of the NEA; Andy Ford, President of the FEA; Vice-President Joe Biden; the Second Lady, Dr. Jill Biden; and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the National Democratic Party.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) was the youngest woman ever elected to the Florida Legislature. She was 26 when she was elected and served eight years before she was elected to the House of Representatives. She has been a friend of FEA and teachers since she was elected to office.  She is probably our state's most precious natural resource.

Rep. Wasserman Schultz noted, "Teachers deserve and have earned a seat at the table."

The Vice-President and his wife were greeted with a thunderous applause and a standing ovation. 

Dr. Jill Biden has been an educator for over thirty years and presently teaches at  Northern Virginia Community College. She considers community colleges one of our country's "best kept secret." She noted that being a teacher is "not about what I do, but who I am."

Vice-President Biden is a great speaker. Of course he knows a great deal about the teaching profession and loves teachers since he is married to one.

Like all of the speakers, the Vice President talked about the organized political attack on the teaching profession, and he defended teachers and the profession. He noted that education does not receive the funding it needs.  He told us that his father said, "Don't tell me what you value. Show me your budget and I will tell you what you value." If that is true our leaders certainly do not value education.

Mr. Biden spoke about the need to properly fund education so America can succeed. He noted that Republican governors, like Florida's governor, Rick Scott, were cutting education funding and leading attacks on teachers and our profession under the pretext of "standing up to public employees."

Speaking about the political attack on labor and teachers, he said, "This is not your father's Republican Party."  He said, "You are not the problem, you are the solution."

Teachers and public employees have seen cuts in pay and retirement funding under Republican governors.  Florida teachers were handed a 3% pay cut this year and are promised another cut next year.

He noted that these politicians were manipulating the "brutal recession and inherited economic crisis" to attack teachers as a direct assault on organized labor. He said, "This is one of the biggest scams in American history. They are using you to launch the most direct assault on labor, not just in my lifetime but, without hyperbole, since the 1920s."

Vice President Biden spoke lovingly about his father several times, sharing what advice he gave to him over his lifetime. He also revealed some personal insights. He related that as a child he stuttered and he got through that difficult time of his life with the help of his family and loving teachers. He said that he loves teachers because they believe in the possibilities of any child to grow up to be something special.

He told us, "Your fight is our children's fight. . . "These are our children. They are like kite strings that lift our nation's ambitions aloft."

He told the audience of educators, "Keep the faith, you are our hope."

The Vice President quoted his favorite poet, William Butler Gates who said, "Education is not about filling a bucket, but lighting a fire."

Some photos:
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Photo by W. L. Doromal ©2011

Photo by W. L. Doromal @2011

Dr. Jill Biden, Photo by Wendy L. Doromal ©2011

Vice President Joe Biden listening to his wife speak

Jill Biden FEA Delegate Assembly, Photo by W. L. Doromal © 2011

Vice President Joe Biden, Photo by W. L. Doromal ©2011

Photo by W. L. Doromal ©2011