Part 4 of the candidate-supporter diary series
As many of you may be aware, we have two daughters, one is 2 yrs. old (Christine) and the other turned 10 (Janine.)
Naturally, education is one of the biggest issues and concerns for our family. I have been dissecting all candidate's educational platforms closely and what I have found in Clinton's approach is one of the main reasons I settled on her as my favored candidate for the nomination.
I am quite confident, after looking at Clinton's record and educational plans and proposals that the teacher's unions (such as the NEA and AFT) will be putting their endorsements and considerable weight behind Clinton's candidacy. It would surprise me if the choice went any other way based on what I have seen in terms of the individual's educational credentials.
First a bit of history:
After receiving a grant, Clinton's first job in 1970 was working for the Children Defense Fund. During her second year in law school, Hillary Clinton volunteered at Yale's Child Study Center, learning about new research on early childhood brain development, as well as New Haven Hospital, where she took on cases of child abuse and the city Legal Services, providing free legal service to the poor. Upon graduation from law school, she served as staff attorney for the Children's Defense Fund in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
In 1996 Hillary Clinton penned the book "It takes a village to raise a child."
This old African proverb was the title of the book Clinton penned in 1996, and it perfectly illustrates the through-and-through progressive nature of Hillary Clinton. In essence, progressivism believes in the idea that government can, better than private enterprise, provide social services to its citizens. If it is done efficiently and smart, it is infinitely better equipped to provide virtually any service imaginable (health care, education, social security, elderly care, child services, etc.) because it does not need to run ever-increasing profits, just break even. It can save money due to its increased buying power over fragmented "for profit" services and, in its ideal form, is a mere servant to the citizenry. That is in essence what "It takes a village" is all about. All of us, society in general, have to pull together to take care of our children's needs, from teachers, health care providers, parents to neighbors, friends, even "all of us" in the form of government. Extend that to the elderly, the poor, the disabled, the war-wounded, and you have a society that helps its sick and poor instead of turning its backs on them.
Here is Clinton's speech at the 1996 Democratic convention addressing the idea of all of us pulling together to improve the lives of every individual:
Here are some what I found to be moving and poignant comments from Hillary Clinton addressing the book itself:
'It Takes A Village....'
By Hillary Rodham Clinton
I write these words looking out through the windows in the White House at the city of Washington in all its beauty and squalor, promise and despair. In the shadow of great power, so many feel powerless. These contradictions color my feelings when I think about my own child and all our children. My worry for these children has increased, but remarkably, so has my hope for their future.
REASONS FOR OPTIMISM
We know much more now than we did even a few years ago about how the human brain develops and what children need from their environments to develop character, empathy, and intelligence. When we put this knowledge into practice, the results are astonishing. Also, because when I read, travel, and talk with people around the world, it is increasingly clear to me that nearly every problem children face today has been solved somewhere, by someone. And finally, because I sense a new willingness on the part of many parents and citizens to turn down the decibel level on our political conflicts and start paying attention to what works.
There's an old saying I love: You can't roll up your sleeves and get to work if you're still wringing your hands. So if you, like me, are worrying about our kids; if you, like me, have wondered how we can match our actions to our words, I'd like to share with you some of the convictions I've developed over a lifetime--not only as an advocate and a citizen but as a mother, daughter, sister, and wife--about what our children need from us and what we owe to them.
"IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD"
I chose that old African proverb to title my book because it offers a timeless reminder that children will thrive only if their families thrive and if the whole of society cares enough to provide for them. The sage who first offered that proverb would undoubtedly be bewildered by what constitutes the modern village. In earlier times and places--and until recently in our own culture--the "village" meant an actual geographic place where individuals and families lived and worked together.
For most of us, though, the village doesn't look like that anymore. In fact, it's difficult to paint a picture of the modern village, so frantic and fragmented has much of our culture become. Extended families rarely live in the same town, let alone the same house. In many communities, crime and fear keep us behind locked doors. Where we used to chat with neighbors on stoops and porches, now we watch videos in our darkened living rooms. Instead of strolling down Main Street, we spend hours in automobiles and at anonymous shopping malls. We don't join civic associations, churches, union, political parties, or even bowling leagues the way we used to.
WE CAN'T TURN AWAY FROM THIS BRAVE NEW WORLD
The horizons of the contemporary village extend well beyond the town line. From the moment we are born, we are exposed to vast numbers of other people and influences through the media. Technology connects us to the impersonal global village it has created.
To many, this brave new world seems dehumanizing and inhospitable. It is not surprising, then,, that there is a yearning for the "good old days" as a refuge from the problems of the present. But by turning away, we blind ourselves to the continuing, evolving presence of the village in our lives, and its critical importance for how we live together. The village can no longer be defined as a place on a map, or as a list of people or organizations, but its essence remains the same: it is the network of values and relationships that support and affect our lives.
NEW WAYS OF COMING TOGETHER
One of the honors of being First Lady is the opportunity I have to go out into the world and to see what individuals and communities are doing to help themselves and their children. I have had the privilege of talking with mothers, fathers, grandparents, civic clubs, Scout troops, PTAs, and church groups. From these many conversations, I know Americans everywhere are searching for--and often finding--new ways to support one another.
Even our technology offers us new ways of coming together, through radio talk shows, e-mail and the Internet. The networks of relationships we form and depend on are our modern-day villages, but they reach well beyond the city limits. Many of them necessarily involve the whole nation. They are the basis for our "civil society," a term social scientists use to describe the way we work together for common purposes. Whether we harness their potential for the greater good or allow ourselves to drift into alienation and divisiveness depends on the choices we make now.
CREATING CONSENSUS, RESISTING EXTREMIST RHETORIC
We cannot move forward by looking to the past for easy olutions. Even if a golden age had existed, we could not simply graft it onto today's busier, more impersonal and complicated world. Instead, our challenge is to arrive at a consensus of values and a common vision of what we can do, individually and collectively, to build strong families and communities. Creating that consensus in a democracy depends on seriously considering other points of view, resisting the lure of extremist rhetoric, and balancing individual rights and freedoms with personal responsibility and mutual obligations.
THE TRUE TEST...
of the consensus we build is how well we care for our children. For a child, the village must remain personal. Talking to a baby while changing a diaper, playing airplane to entice a toddler to accept a spoonful of food, tossing a ball back and forth with a teenager, are tasks that cannot be carried out in cyberspace. They require the presence of caring adults who are dedicated to children's growth, nurturing, and well-being.
What we do to participate in and support that network--from the way we care for our own children to the jobs we do, the causes we join, and the kinds of legislation we support--is mirrored every day in the experiences of America's children. We can read our national character most plainly in the result.
MORALITY, AND SELF-INTEREST, AT STAKE
How we care for our own and other people's children isn't only a question of morality; our self-interest is at stake too. No family is immune to the influences of the larger society. No matter what my husband and I do to protect and prepare Chelsea, her future will be affected by how other children are being raised. I don't want her to grow up in an America sharply divided by income, race, or religion. I'd like to minimize the odds of her suffering at the hands of someone who didn't have enough love or discipline, opportunity or responsibility, as a child. I want her to believe, as her father and I did, that the American Dream is within reach of anyone willing to work hard and take responsibility. I want her to live in an America that is still strong and promising to its own citizens and lives up to its image throughout the world as a land of hope and opportunity.
THIS, THEN, IS AN INVITATION TO A JOURNEY...
we can take together, as parents and as citizens of this country, united in the belief that children are what matter--more than the size of our bank accounts or the kinds of cars we drive. As Jackie Kennedy Onassis said, "If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do matters very much." That goes for each of us, whether or not we are parents--and for all of us as a nation.
More after the flip....