President Joe Biden’s statement at the 2023 National and State Teacher of the Year celebration has raised eyebrows among conservatives online.
Biden’s address focused on the National Teacher of the Year — Rebecka Peterson, a calculus teacher from Oklahoma. Students in Peterson’s school district speak 62 different languages. During her time at Union High School, the pass rate in her class rose from 50 percent to 87 percent.
“Rebecka put a teacher’s creed into words when she said, ‘There’s no such thing as someone else’s child,’” said Biden at the event, which was held in the Rose Garden of the White House. “No such thing as someone else’s child. Our nation’s children are all our children.”
Biden later tweeted, “Our children are our nation’s future, and they are in the hands of teachers. This White House will always have their back.”
The president’s sentiments were not shared by conservative voices on Twitter, who saw the claim to all children as an indication of the possessiveness of the federal government.
“When he says ‘all our children,’ he means, ‘the state’s children,’” wrote Jeff Charles, an opinion writer for Newsweek.
“Our nation’s children are all our children and that’s why your daughter goes by Ralph now and ze/zer/xtey pronouns. Sorry,” wrote Stephen Miller, a contributing editor for The Spectator.
Peterson immigrated to America as a child with her parents who were medical missionaries. At the time, she only spoke Swedish. Peterson has authored more than 1,000 posts for the teaching blog One Good Thing.
“Now more than ever, we as educators have to create these spaces where we’re able to hold their stories and to sit with them and lean into what they’re telling us,” said Peterson during an interview with ABC News. “They’re counting on us. They’re counting on us to create these safe and open places.”
Peterson has called for higher teacher salaries to combat nationwide teacher shortages.
According to a study from the National Education Association, a public school teacher made an average of $66,745 during the 2021-2022 school year — a 2 percent increase from the years before and an estimated 2.6 percent less than the projected average salary for the 2022-2023 school year.
“However, over the past decade average teacher pay has failed to keep up with inflation,” reports CBS News. “On average, teachers are making $3,644 less than they did 10 years ago due to an estimated 6.4% decline.”
As the National Teacher of the Year, Peterson will step away from her classroom work and work with the Council of Chief State School Officers as a “spokesperson and advocate for the teaching profession.”
“NTOYs speak at over 150 events each year before audiences ranging from several hundred to over 10,000 and are often asked to sit on national and state commissions and policy advising bodies,” said the CCSSO. “The goal of this programming is to elevate the voices of teachers and ensure that teachers are leaders in state and national policy conversations.”
The National Teacher of the Year is selected by a committee from the 50 annual State Teachers of the Year.