Home > Uncategorized > WSJ Op Ed Demeaning Jill Biden’s Ed.D Reflects the Anti-Intellectual Brand of Trump’s GOP

WSJ Op Ed Demeaning Jill Biden’s Ed.D Reflects the Anti-Intellectual Brand of Trump’s GOP

December 16, 2020


Late last week the Wall Street Journal featured an op ed article by Joseph Epstein that chided President-elect Joe Biden’s wife, Jill, for using the honorific “Doctor”. NBC reporter Tonya Russell summarized the critique as follows:

“‘Dr. Jill Biden’ sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic,” wrote Joseph Epstein, a longtime contributor to The Journal. “Your degree is, I believe, an Ed.D., a doctor of education, earned at the University of Delaware through a dissertation with the unpromising title ‘Student Retention at the Community College Level: Meeting Students’ Needs.'”

Like Jill Biden I have an Ed.D and like her I wrote my dissertation on a practical research question: does a demanding application process yield a superior pool of applicants? And, like Jill Biden I was subjected to some who questioned its legitimacy and some who used the term in a sneering and derisive way.

As Ms. Russell noted in her NBC report, an ED.D requires the same number of years as a Ph.D and is often as rigorous. Increasingly the degree is a pre-requisite for an administrative assignment because School Boards and especially recruiting consultants view it as a means of objectively screening candidates. Early in my career I was able to get interviews based on the credential and three of those interviews led to jobs as I advanced from Assistant Principal to Superintendent of a 17,000 pupil school district in a 10 year interval. In the end, I was willing to accept the criticism from the likes of Mr. Epstein because I knew how much work went into earning my degree and came to understand that it was no different than the work that went into a “real” doctorate.

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