by Félix Pérez
President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and community college professor Jill Biden, the vice president’s wife, closed out the Democratic National Convention last night on a high note, highlighting the role of education in the lives of Americans and in the nation’s economic recovery.
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“Education was the gateway to opportunity for me. It was the gateway for Michelle. And now more than ever, it is the gateway to a middle-class life,” said President Obama.
Drawing a distinction between his vision and the vision independent analysts say would result from the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan budget, President Obama said, “And now you have a choice – we can gut education, or we can decide that in the United States of America, no child should have her dreams deferred because of a crowded classroom or a crumbling school. No family should have to set aside a college acceptance letter because they don’t have the money.”
Continuing his contrast with the Romney-Ryan budget proposal, he said:
I refuse to ask students to pay more for college, or kick children out of Head Start programs, or eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor, elderly, or disabled – all so those with the most can pay less.
“Millions of students are paying less for college today because we finally took on a system that wasted billions of taxpayer dollars on banks and lenders,” said the president.
Romney and the Republican Party platform would reinsert banks as student loan providers.
Vice President Biden came to the defense of DREAMers, students who have done well in school, worked hard and played by the rules but who were brought by their parents to the United States as young children.
“Governor Romney believes — he believes that kids — kids like our DREAMers, those immigrant children who were brought to America’s shores through no fault of their own — he thinks they’re a drag on the American economy.”
Romney has promised to veto the DREAM Act, legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for qualifying students who are in college or the military, and have been raised in the United States.
Biden also took aim at the criticism leveled by Romney and Ryan at President Obama for creating “a culture of dependency.”
“They seem to think you create a culture of dependency when you provide a bright, young, qualified kid from a working-class family a loan to get to college.”
Jill Biden spoke to the convention delegates “not only as the wife of our vice president, but as a full-time teacher.”
“I’m also here tonight for my students — students like Angie — who work so hard to create a better life for themselves and their families. I’ve been a teacher for more than 30 years, and to this day, I continue to teach full time at a community college in northern Virginia.
“Not long after Joe was elected vice president, people started questioning whether I could keep teaching. Not Joe. He was there, standing by my side, saying, “Of course you should. It’s who you are, Jill.” For me, being a teacher isn’t just what I do — it’s who I am.”