‘A significant number of these kids, because of you, are going to be going to college,’ president tells teachers
Mr Biden was visiting the Garden State to campaign for his social spending and infrastructure plans currently being hotly debated within the Democratic Party as they work to agree on a spending package that can pass Congress.
One of the plans includes a measure to create universal preschool in the US.
“A significant number of these kids, because of you, are going to be going to college,” Mr Biden told teachers during his visit.
Currently, all four-year-olds in North Plainfield’s school district have access to free preschool, but the White House said its plan would expand that to include all three-year-olds as well.
A student called Amelia showed Mr Biden a painting she did of the president standing on a bridge.
“Am I getting ready to go fishing or something?” Mr Biden asked. “Did you do that by yourself? You’re kidding!”
“It’s their way to express their thoughts and feelings,” teacher Allison Hessemer said.
Mr Biden visited the school along with New Jersey’s Democratic Governor Phil Murphy, who has worked to expand preschool in public schools across the state. The state budget now includes preschool funding for 140 districts, but 300 districts still go without preschool programmes, NJ.com reported.
Mr Murphy has acknowledged that making preschool available to all three and four-year-olds could take another decade. The governor faces a re-election fight on 2 November against Republican Jack Ciattarelli in a tightening race that Mr Murhphy now leads by around six points.
“Can I stay?” Mr Biden asked as he was about to leave.
“Maybe you can come back sometime,” a student called Cayden responded.
“We wish he could stay all day,” Ms Hessemer added.
“But he has a job to do!” Cayden said to chuckles.
Mr Biden won New Jersey by 16 points in the 2020 presidential election, but a Quinnipiac poll earlier this month revealed that only 38 per cent of all Americans currently approve of his job performance.
“Joe Biden’s approval rating is plummeting and now, when it counts the most, Phil Murphy is losing ground rapidly. No matter how they spin it, Biden and Murphy only have costly failures to offer the Garden State,” RNC Spokesperson Rachel Lee said in a statement.