In her first widely broadcast appearance since her husband won the presidential election, Jill Biden pledged continued support for military families -- an extension of the work undertaken when she served as second lady.
Addressing attendees of the virtual Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) summit Tuesday, Biden described the stressors facing military children at home and in the classroom, as they move from school to school, and deal with their parents' deployments.
Referencing an MCEC survey that found just 41% of military families feel that schools meet their students' needs, Biden, a community college professor who has said she plans to continue teaching while living in the White House, said she is "ready to get to work with you."
"Joe and I have always believed that, as a nation, we have many obligations. But we only have one truly sacred obligation: to properly prepare and equip our troops when we send them into harm's way. And to care for them and their families, both while they are deployed and after they return home," she said.
Biden and former first lady Michelle Obama established Joining Forces in 2011, a national initiative to support military families and veterans, focusing on employment, wellness and mental health, education and transitions.
In 2012, Biden rolled out "Operation Educate the Educators" under Joining Forces -- an effort to raise awareness among teachers about the challenges military kids face in their classrooms.
According to Biden, there are more than two million military- and veteran-connected children in U.S. classrooms.
"Educators can do so much to empower students, to help them find the confidence they didn't really know they had and grow into the people they want to become," she said. "That's especially true for military-connected children who are looking to the adults in their lives for stability and support."
According to MCEC, military children can expect to move six to nine times before they graduate from high school. Those frequent transfers can mean missed educational opportunities, gaps in coursework and having to deal with varying testing requirements.
More than two-thirds of school professionals surveyed said they lack confidence assessing other schools' transcripts for military kids or granting graduation waivers for children who move in their senior year.
And 45% of educators said they don't feel confident helping military kids prepare for college or careers.
"The findings underscore that we must do more to ensure military-connected children receive the education they need to be work-, college- and life-ready," said MCEC President and CEO Becky Porter.
The survey, conducted earlier this year, drew more than 5,000 responses from teachers and administrators, military kids and parents from across the five armed services in all 50 states and 21 countries.
Biden said the survey provides a framework to "chart a better path for students, parents and school."
"Your sacrifice deserves nothing less," she said.