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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by First Lady Jill Biden at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by First Lady Jill Biden at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting

The White House

Thank you, Tom.

Governor Cox, Mr. Chairman, thank you for your work and your efforts to foster a more constructive, respectful dialogue in our debates. Joe is grateful for your leadership, and I’m grateful to you and Abby for the warm welcome in Utah last month.

Good morning. It’s great to be here with all of you.

Governor Scott, when I visited Vermont last year, what you said stayed with me. You said, “pure […] partisan politics has never contributed to real solutions.” And that, we “can, and should, prioritize progress over politics, especially on issues where the majority of Americans agree.”

That majority is an exhausted one, as Governor Cox often points out.

They’re frustrated by a Congress that is often mired in gridlock, and those who too often treat government like a sport, with an “us versus them” mindset and a knee-jerk reaction to oppose anything the other team supports.

But this room shows the nation something very different, and I wish some lawmakers on the Hill would follow your lead.

You show that we can turn down the volume, stop the shouting, and actually listen to one another, that, yes, as Governor Cox says, we can disagree without being disagreeable.

As many of you know, I’ve been teaching writing for 40 years. One day, a student named Harry, who wanted to be an auto-mechanic, raised his hand.

“Dr. B,” he said, “the only thing I need to learn how to write is ‘needs brakes.’”

He was joking, of course. But he had a point: he wasn’t just there to learn the art of writing – he was there to prepare himself for a good-paying job.

For most people, a high school diploma alone isn’t enough to find a great career. But they often don’t need a four-year degree to pursue their passions either. And as technology brings changes to so many industries, these kinds of learning paths are more important than ever.

Since he took office, my husband, President Biden, has been focused on rebuilding the middle class. And today, millions of new jobs in infrastructure, clean energy, and manufacturing are being created.

We will need to train a new generation of workers to fill them.

These positions pay well. And many of them require associate degrees, certificates, or other hands-on instruction, not four years of college.

Still, a lot of high school students don’t necessarily know how to get from earning their diplomas to earning a living. They may not even know what roles are out there.

That’s why we need to transform education, so that it does a better job of preparing students for careers.

Nearly 60 percent of graduating high school students don’t go directly to a four-year college. Six out of every 10 students.

Are high schools designed to meet the needs of those students – the majority – who won’t go directly to a four-year university?

Too many schools aren’t.

Yes, we should still expand access and affordability for students who want to go immediately to a four-year college after high school.

But we also need to dramatically expand the opportunities we provide for students who may pursue something else. And that means that everyone needs a chance to explore future careers in high school.

Career-connected learning meets that need.

I’ve seen it around the country.

In Wisconsin, Governor Evers is scaling a model for starting apprenticeships in high school in fields from finance to nursing. In Vermont, Governor Scott is investing in dual enrollment and free community college. And in Indiana, I saw how students are getting training for careers in clean energy.

These states show us what it looks like when students have access to comprehensive career advising, when they are able to take community college courses in high school and even earn a credential, and when they can earn high school course credit for working at a job.

I believe in evidence-based models, not just theories. We know this works.

An Oregon study found that students who concentrated in a particular career area graduated high school at higher rates and went on to earn higher wages as adults.

So, what can you do?

You can build out and grow career-connected programs in your state.

I know many of you are already doing this work. Some of you are providing comprehensive career advising.

Some are prioritizing access to dual enrollment. Some have impressive programs that allow students to work in real workplaces as part of their high school curriculum.

And some states are expanding credentialing opportunities, so that students can work toward obtaining a career qualification while in high school.

But not enough states are doing all of these, all at once, for every student. And that’s what’s crucial to unlocking the potential of career-connected learning.

So, I’m asking you to lean in.

Go to your businesses and tell them how apprenticeships can boost productivity and reduce turnover. Go to your community college and K-12 leaders and work with them to expand dual enrollment opportunities that connect all students to good-paying jobs.

And use my office as a partner – and a resource. Reach out to us. Let us know how we can help you and lift up the great work you’re doing.

And I hope that when this group gathers next, we have even more successes to show.

Thank you.


Official news published at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2024/02/23/remarks-as-prepared-for-delivery-by-first-lady-jill-biden-at-the-national-governors-association-winter-meeting/

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