It is not unusual for President Biden to make verbal gaffes. Now we know that his wife Jill is capable of the same. While recently speaking at an event in San Antonio, Jill Biden stated, “Raul helped build this organization with the understanding that the diversity of this community, as distinct as the bodegas of the Bronx, as beautiful as the blossoms of Miami and as unique as the breakfast tacos here in San Antonio, is your strength.” Surely, she read the speech before it was inserted into the teleprompter. Perhaps she wrote it herself.
People with even a basic knowledge of English grammar understood that her words were equating the diversity of the San Antonio community with the uniqueness of the breakfast taco. Thus, the statement was taken as an insult. Jill Biden has since apologized.
Most likely, Jill Biden wanted to use the breakfast taco as nothing more than an example of something unique about San Antonio cuisine but pretty much blew her opportunity and, at the same time, insulted the people of the Bronx by mispronouncing the word “bodega.”
Jill Biden holds a doctorate in education from the University of Delaware. Before that, she obtained a Master of Education degree from West Chester University and a Master of Arts degree in English from Villanova University. She taught English to high school students for many years. She was hired as a professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College and has continued in that position since 2008 after her husband Joe was elected to the office of Vice President.
Jill Biden is no ordinary person who made a silly error. In spite of her degrees, she teaches a subject that she obviously has not mastered herself and has been doing so for many years. Unfortunately, this is another example of what is wrong with U.S. schools.
Teachers are not held to reasonable standards of knowledge of subject matter whether it is in the field of English, reading at the elementary level, or mathematics. A teacher is generally certified and hired for having a certain number of credits in education courses and a major or minor in one’s subject matter. The test for Arizona teacher certification covers knowledge of education concepts rather than subject matter. It is insultingly easy to pass.
The teaching of grammar, cursive writing, phonics, and the multiplication tables lost favor in the 1980s. Consequently, the college of education instructors began to emphasize new, untried ideas such as bilingual education, whole language, and everyday mathematics. Unfortunately, at the same time, student achievement in our public schools began to decline and continued along that pathway up to present time. Consequently, many colleges of education graduates lack mastery of essential, fundamental skills themselves so hardly have the ability to teach them – although phonics to some degree, cursive writing, and English immersion to English learners are now required to be taught in Arizona schools.
First Lady Jill Biden has shown us unintentionally how important it is for teachers to have mastery over the subjects they teach. We must insist that drastic changes be made in the training of teachers. Otherwise, the academic achievement of our children will continue its downturn when compared to that of other countries.