“Madame First Lady — Mrs. Biden — Jill — kiddo.”

The criticism of the Wall Street Journal Op Ed about Dr. Jill Biden using her formal title “Dr.” was swift. And appropriate.

I have a doctorate in education, the same degree Dr. Biden holds. I could explain the study and research and work it took to earn my degree, but there is no need. The almost immediate outrage to the editorial affirmed for me that people understand that.

I could point out that the people who piled on with comments about not wanting Dr. Biden to be the one working in the Emergency Room are ridiculous. Smart, talented, educated people who earn an Ed.D. do not suddenly think they should crack open someone’s chest.


Years after they retire, people still refer to the best coaches as Coach. When you want to acknowledge the best meal you have ever eaten in a restaurant, you refer to the chef as Chef.

It’s about respect.

I have a friend who is a lawyer. He earned his JD. We don’t refer to him as Dr. though. Each profession has a protocol for the language it uses to denote respect. In education, when you have earned the highest degree, we refer to you as Dr.

It’s about respect.

When Dr. Biden responded to the piece, she said that what surprised her was the tone. “He called me kiddo.” When people say the piece was sexist, that’s why.

We can debate whether or not an Ed.D. should use the title Dr. They should. But we should not have to debate that referring to a woman, any woman, but in this case a woman who has earned the highest credential in her profession, as “kiddo” is not respectful.

In my family, we joke that I am a doctor “but not the useful kind.” We joke about that because I have 4 degrees and spent 26 years in school. We joke about that because I have passed comps three times and have written a dissertation. We can joke about it because I know that there is a deep level of respect for what I’ve achieved.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to blog about this. Honestly, I didn’t feel the need. The world jumped on this in a way that warmed my heart and made me feel seen.

But this week my Facebook memory popped up this crazy foil picture. Ten years ago to the day I graduated with my Doctorate. While I was in my Hooding Ceremony, that’s what it’s called, a friend was foiling my office. I mean foiling the whole thing. My stapler. My scissors. There was nothing not wrapped in foil. He sent me the picture during the ceremony, so I could see it when I was done.

It’s about respect.