Jill Biden during Detroit school visit: ‘See how far we’ve come since March two years ago’

By: - July 21, 2022 1:41 pm

First lady Jill Biden visited the Schulze Academy for Technology and Arts located in Detroit on July 21, 2022. She was joined by Detroit Public Schools Community District General Superintendent Nikolai Vitti and U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. | Ken Coleman

First lady Jill Biden on Thursday touted a set of summer enrichment classes carried out at Schulze Academy for Technology and Arts on Detroit’s northwest side.

Biden, a career college English professor, thanked the state’s largest school district and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for their local and state efforts to support public school education, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“So, I’ve met families and teachers during the pandemic for the last year and a half and I’ve seen the effects of the pandemic on learning and educators say to me, ‘You know, my kids just don’t connect with each other the way they used to.’ And parents say, ‘You know, she used to love learning and now the spark in her eye is gone’ … So, we can look around and see these programs and see how far we’ve come since March two years ago,” Biden said at the conclusion of her Detroit visit. 

It was at Schulze Academy that she told a group of reporters that she has tested negative for COVID-19 after the White House announced President Joe Biden has contracted a mild case of the virus.

“You may have just heard my husband tested positive for COVID,” Biden said. “I talked to him just a few minutes ago. He’s doing fine. He’s feeling good. I tested negative this morning.”

She also tweeted the message. 

First lady Jill Biden in Detroit on July 21, 2022. | Ken Coleman

During the hour-long tour of three classrooms, Biden and U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona observed students learning English Language Arts through a reading and response exercise, gaining skills in photography and experiencing how the use of drones have impacted the profession, and advancing culinary arts skills through a program called “Camp Dinner Table.” 

They were hosted by Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) General Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, Detroit Board of Education President Angelique Peterson-Mayberry and school principal Angela Kemp. 

Cardona said “it takes a village, and we saw that village today in Detroit.”

“I love what I saw today,” he said. “I love the fact that American Rescue Plan Act  dollars are providing opportunities for students.” 

Vitti told reporters that DPSCD has secured and utilized about $800 million in COVID-19-related funds over the last two years. 

“We’ve made a lot of progress but there is still much to do,” Vitti said.

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.

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