DETROIT—In an address to the American Federation of Teachers national convention, Vice President Joe Biden today outlined a clear vision for an America that invests in educators and public service workers; rebuilds the middle class; and stops vilifying and attacking hardworking Americans who teach the country's kids, heal families and keep communities running. The vice president was joined by his wife and community college professor, Dr. Jill Biden.
"I love being in a room with so many fellow educators. Being a teacher is not what I do, it's who I am," said Dr. Biden, as she introduced the vice president.
"What I see when I look at you is educators; I see professionals, I see public servants who are under full-blown assault," said Vice President Biden, describing the impact budget cuts and anti-worker attacks have had on public service workers. "We should be debating how big a seat you have at the table, not if you even get a seat at the table, when people are talking about the future of education."
The vice president went on to contrast his and President Barack Obama's efforts to keep teachers in the classroom and make college more affordable, with Mitt Romney's proposals to fire teachers, increase class sizes, and make college more unaffordable and unattainable.
Referring to Romney and the Republicans, Vice President Biden said, "Instead of providing you with the things you need, they criticize you, they blame you. Our vision is seeing you appreciated and respected as the professionals you are...Unlike our opponents, we don't see you as the problem—we see you as the solution."
Biden also hit on the importance of rebuilding and investing in good jobs and a strong middle class.
"The middle class is not a number; it's a way of life. It's a set of values," Biden said. He said it's about ensuring that people can own their own homes, live in safe neighborhoods, and send their kids to quality public schools; that students can afford college; and that people can afford to retire with dignity.
"Both Vice President and Dr. Biden understand that building strong public schools and investing in the public services upon which our communities depend are essential to expanding the middle class and increasing economic opportunity for all Americans," said AFT President Randi Weingarten. "The vice president is a champion for working people, our schools and our communities, and his wife is a lifelong educator who knows firsthand many of the challenges facing our schools. We are thrilled to have them join our convention, and AFT members are proud to stand with Vice President Biden and President Obama to win a better future for all."
The AFT's executive council endorsed President Obama and Vice President Biden this past February, and the more than 3,000 educators, healthcare workers and public employees at the AFT national convention passed a resolution today affirming their support for the president and vice president.
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