FLOTUS backs unions and public education at a Verona elementary school
VERONA, Wis. (WMTV) - Tackling problems public school teachers and union members face in the classroom was the theme of First Lady Dr. Jill Biden’s visit to Glacier Edge Elementary School in Verona.
Just days before the start of the school year, hundreds of educators in south central Wisconsin got a pep talk from Dr. Jill Biden, a lifelong educator.
“Especially this time of year, it’s great to have that boost of energy from someone who understands,” said Verona music teacher Molly Kruger.
Kruger says after hearing FLOTUS was coming to her district, she couldn’t sign up for the event fast enough. She says she’s proud to work in the district the White House chose to host the First Lady.
“It means we are on the right track. It means we are doing what is right for kids, and I really do believe with our administration, we are moving forward and trying to make sure we are offering high expectations and a high form of education for all kids,” said Kruger.
Glacier Edge Principal Theresa Taylor agrees. She said it was her staff that sealed the deal for the prestigious stop.
“We went through a process and eventually started showing our building to members of the White House and they fell in love with it right when they walked in because it’s a really special place because of what the adults give when they’re here,” said Taylor.
Accompanied by US Senator Tammy Baldwin and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, Dr. Biden talked for about 20 minutes, using the time to encourage her fellow educators and promise to support them.
“I’m here to say you aren’t in this alone. You have a friend in the White House, two in fact; me and my husband Joe!” said The First Lady.
The First Lady talked about the new bipartisan gun safety bill, addressing the mental health and academic needs of students, and loan forgiveness for public servants.
“We know there are challenges ahead, but we do this work because of who we are. We are optimists, we are true believers, we are union members,” said Biden.
National education leaders flocked to Glacier Edge in support of the Biden Administration.
“Today is just joy. And think about it this way. This is the beginning of school! Look at this excitement! Look at the sense that teachers have about this school year,” said the American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. “Look at what you see and hear in this room. That’s a good indication we are coming back, that America is back.”
National leaders saying they recognize what a stop from the First Lady means to the Badger State.
“Teaching is a profession that helps nurture all of the professions,” said Weingarten. “And so the fact that she’s here sends a message not only to the people in Verona, but people all across the country that we need to appreciate teachers.”
Some Verona educators came in hopes of voicing their concerns to the First Lady. They say the main issues they are facing are staffing shortages, not enough pay and a lack of mental health resources for students and staff. Teachers say many are experiencing burnout worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But by getting a visit from FLOTUS, they are hoping they have an ally in Washington.
“Just that there are still conversations at high levels about how to encourage more support for teachers and more support for education in our communities because as we know, it’s underfunded and the job gets harder and harder every year. Hopefully there are conversations at really high level to continue with those measures,” Kruger said.
The first day of school for Verona is on Tuesday.
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