School Talk

When it Comes to Fighting for Kids, Hillary Will Be a Voice in my Head

I voted for Hillary Clinton. I wasn’t excited about it as so many other women, young and old, were. And the #ImWithHer movement didn’t resonate all that much with me because those who wrapped themselves in the hashtag and wore pantsuits to vote have never been willing to do the same for other women candidates, albeit conservative, who have faced the very same glass ceiling that women on the left have faced. Condi. Nikki. Carly.

My heart goes out to Mrs. Clinton. And her supporters. And all the little girls who were promised before they went to bed that they’d wake up to the first woman president. An ultimately misguided promise, indeed. But I shared their hope. The first woman president was certainly something that I, as a forty three year old woman and mother, would celebrate. Hell, it’s about time.

Her concession speech moved and inspired me. Truth is, I’ve watched it a few times and each time, my eyes well up and the lump in my throat is big. Unfortunately, as a candidate, she didn’t move enough people the way she did in defeat. And despite her decision to apologize for the loss, she has nothing for which to apologize. If there is one thing she has done, she has shown young girls and young women and all of us what it is to persevere and get back up again and keep fighting after the pain of setbacks has waned.

We who work hard for school choice and believe deeply in charter schools also lost big in both Massachusetts and Georgia. And I hope that regardless of our political leanings, we will have Hillary Clinton as one of the voices in our heads as we continue our fight for the children being failed by America’s schools.

Never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.  And to all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.

While the latter part of her comments were especially directed at young girls, those words apply to all children and must be front of mind for all of us dedicated to the students — particularly black and Latino ones from poor communities — who are missing out on the chances and opportunities Clinton describes. And the brutal truth is that the millions of children to whom she was speaking will not be able to achieve the dreams to which she refers if they aren’t well educated in high quality schools run by talented leaders and staffed by skilled educators.

It doesn’t matter what kind of school educates them but we cannot stand still or stay quiet, not even for one day, knowing that American children are consigned to schools where they aren’t learning, where they are victims of abuse, and where a minor school infraction can land them in handcuffs.

I am personally grateful to Mrs. Clinton for becoming a voice in my head moving forward.

The Blinders

Huffington Post made a grave mistake early on and it became symbolic of what the “elites” or those in the coastal bubbles just didn’t see. Or believe. Or understand. After Trump declared his candidacy, HuffPo refused to even run stories about him in the politics section. Instead, Sam Stein proudly boasted on Morning Joe that they were relegating Trump to the Entertainment section because that’s all he was. An entertainment story not to be taken seriously.

When they finally came around and pulled him out of the Entertainment pages, they included a strongly worded “Editor’s Note” at the bottom of every single piece written about him. It read this way:

“Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.”

Pundits mocked and dismissed not only his candidacy but those who supported him. They belittled his supporters, all of them, as ignorant racists, xenophobes, misogynists– deplorables — but turn-out shows that far more women and even Latinos broke for Trump than anyone expected. And to the dismay of her team, her supporters, and President Obama himself,  Hillary proved to be unable to carry the “Obama Coalition”, the model upon which almost all polls seem to have been based. And while racism, sexism, and xenophobia had to have driven some of the vote, it is intellectually dishonest — and irresponsible — to imply it drove all of it.

The night I saw Hillary supporters swarm Twitter to mock Mike Pence for choosing to eat at Chilis with his family while in New York City, was the first time I sensed that there just may be a path for a Trump victory. Steve Schmidt, former McCain adviser, rightly says that we can’t underestimate the role of ‘cultural condescension’ in this race and the pitchforks that came out over a meal at Chilis encapsulated that for me. I grew up surrounded by the Whole Foods crowd and I know how tiresome that condescension can be. But because of my background and education levels perhaps, I only get hit with it when I take my kids to McDonalds or choose Dunkin’ Donuts coffee over Starbucks. Others in America get hit with it from every side.

But don’t underestimate the cultural condescension heaped on millions of these working class Americans by elites in this country. Their God is mocked. Their service to the country is mocked. The fact that their patriotism, they get teary eyed when they see the flag. Their values are scorned and you saw this massive resentment manifest itself in this campaign and it’s a huge part of it. -Steve Schmidt

Through their lens, while the elites were feeding at the table of globalization, technology, and trade, ordinary working Americans with whom they never rub elbows were suffering. And calling out for help. And being ignored.

Those who ultimately voted for Trump didn’t want to hear about what New York Times columnist Frank Bruni rightly calls “boutique issues.” Small business owners didn’t want to hear about transgender bathrooms in high schools. They wanted to hear how they could escape losing their business. People without jobs didn’t want to hear about the promise of a global economy. They wanted to believe their luck may change and they might find a job.

When people are silenced, when they feel like simply saying, I don’t agree with Obamacare, or I don’t agree with transgender bathrooms, but, if they feel like saying that, it immediately gets them branded, whether it’s on social media, or whether it’s by people talking in a studio, it gets them branded a bigot, a deplorable. They’re going to seethe, and they’re going to find some sort of outlet for that seething, and the outlet is Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States.

I found much of Donald Trump’s rhetoric appalling. And racist. And incoherent. I’ve told my own children that they’d be suspended from school if they said the things our now President Elect has said. While one of my sons attends a district school where the student body was split down the middle on Trump v Clinton, my younger ones attend a high poverty charter school that is mostly Latino — and we talked at length the morning of November 9th about how to navigate the day in school with the knowledge that classmates may feel scared and be very upset about the election outcome.

Since I was first able to vote, I have supported presidential candidates from both parties. But without exception, I have always done my best to want my president, whoever it was, to succeed. And while this isn’t the outcome I wanted or predicted, I shall do the same now.

What other option do we have?






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