WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden accused conservatives of making teachers a “target of the culture wars” as he honored an Ohio educator who teaches high schoolers about race, gender, and oppression.
“Teaching is one of the hardest jobs in this country,” Biden said. “Today, there are too many politicians trying to score political points trying to ban books — even math books. I mean, did you ever think … that when you’d be teaching you’d be worrying about book burnings and banning books? All because it doesn’t fit somebody’s political agenda.”
“American teachers have dedicated their lives to teaching our children and lifting them up,” he said. “We ought to stop making them a target of the culture wars. That’s where this is going.”
Today, as he honored an Ohio educator who teaches high schoolers about race, gender, and oppression, President Biden accused conservatives of making teachers "a target of the culture wars." pic.twitter.com/a5TCUI4OrH
— Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) April 27, 2022
During the Wednesday Teacher of the Year event, Biden honored 2022 National Teacher of the Year Kurt Russell, who works at Ohio’s Oberlin High School and was named the teacher of the year by the nonprofit Council of Chief State School Officers, according to CNN.
The publication reported that Russell teaches African American history, race, gender, and oppression courses, coaches varsity basketball, and serves as the faculty adviser for the school’s Black Student Union.
He has previously pushed back against the suggestion that he teaches Critical Race Theory — which holds that America is fundamentally racist and teaches adherents to view every person and interaction through the lens of race — saying that he wants his courses to be viewed as “normalized and not different.”
“Students must see themselves in the classroom and the curriculum in order to empower and engage,” Russell said in statements Wednesday. “That’s why I created courses that allow students to feel value. Courses that deal with women’s rights, gay rights and also a survey of Black history. It’s important that my students see themselves as I see them — with unlimited potential and full of gifts.”
He added: “I am truly blessed to be a part of a profession that transforms and legitimizes student voices and plants the groundwork for a more culturally responsive education.”
Earlier in April when it was announced that Russell would be honored, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) said in a statement that he is a “powerful advocate who always puts students at the center of his work.”
“With more than two decades in the classroom and strong connections to his community, he speaks with warmth and honesty on how schools can best meet students’ needs,” the CCSSO said. “Kurt will be a passionate and authentic voice for teachers and students as 2022 National Teacher of the Year.”