I talk about expectations all the time and how we must ensure that the bar for our students and our children is a high one. And I firmly believe that to be true.
But I realized last week that my feelings about the 2016 election put me in the crosshairs of potential hypocrisy. I wasn’t planning to vote for Hillary Clinton. John Kasich was my first choice, and my frustration with my remaining choices left me cold enough that my plan was to vote for Gary Johnson and William Weld. But now, I’m rethinking it all.
You see, I am the mother of three boys. And it occurred to me last week that it’s easy for me to take it for granted that their futures are limitless because they are white boys who will most likely become fourth-generation college students—both my maternal grandparents were college graduates.
I don’t have a daughter. I didn’t have a little girl to sit beside to watch the first woman in history accept a major party’s nomination for the presidency. And it’s rare that I wish I had a daughter. But, I must admit, I thought about how cool it must have been for moms (and dads!) across America, regardless of party affiliation, to experience that moment with their daughters.
My own governor, Gina Raimondo, said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe that she was racing home from Philly to watch Hillary’s speech with her 11-year-old daughter and that was moving to me.
So then I started thinking of my former students, my girls. During my decade as an educator, I have loved a lot of girls. Some rich, some poor, some white, many who are not. But what they all have in common is that they have given me the opportunity to love and give myself to young girls in a way that I can’t within my immediate family.
Even my dog is a boy. (But between us, a little girl puppy is joining the family in a few weeks so some fun accessorizing and girl power is on the horizon, finally).
After becoming the mother of only sons, I came to depend on “my girls” even more because being around them bathed me in all that being around young women involves. Their achievements, their mistakes, their heartbreaks, and their triumphs. They inspire me to be better, make me laugh, keep me young, help me with the new slang, and guide me away from my bad outfits.
I had them on my mind during the final days of the Democratic National Convention. I listened intently to the unusually diverse group of speakers and am still reflecting and even re-watching parts of the convention. I hung on to every word of Michelle Obama’s speech. I thought about everything Michael Bloomberg said. As always, Joe Biden was convincing, and President Obama was a powerful orator.
And then I heard Khizr Khan, a Muslim American who lost his son in Iraq in 2004, and my heart felt like it stopped listening to him speak about his son. I was frozen watching him pull a copy of the United States Constitution from his breast pocket.
And then he said it:
“You have sacrificed nothing. And no one.”
Trump Didn’t Have My Vote
I was never going to vote for Donald Trump. That’s not the issue for me. But I was never going to vote for Clinton either. And it is she that I’m now reconsidering.
I have a renewed interest in getting to know presidential candidate Hillary Clinton better. She has shattered a glass ceiling and while I can’t see it through the eyes of a daughter, I can see it through the eyes of my students. And it matters that they will now know that a woman can become president of the United States. Putting aside her party or policies, it matters. And I discovered this week that it matters to me more than I thought it did.
I do have hesitations.
I worry about her honesty.
I’m very disappointed that she has pulled back on her former positions on K-12 education. I was disappointed in the position she took on the Friedrichs case—choosing to side with unions instead of the teacher plaintiffs.
But I also know that she is highly informed regarding education issues, while her opponent is not, and demonstrates so every time he opens his mouth. He rails against Common Core and then makes comments that show he has no idea what it even is.
I hope she will move back to her former education self if she becomes our president. I have to believe that she, a champion for children, will not allow herself to be beholden to Randi Weingarten once she has been inaugurated. And I’m praying for a sign before election day that I’m right.
So despite the popular narrative out there, some people do reconsider. People do change their minds. People do listen, reflect, and think deeply about their opinions and whether or not it makes sense to stand by them or be open to changing them based on the moment and the alternative.
I tip my hat to those who had a hand in this year’s Democratic National Convention. While conventional wisdom says that conventions don’t matter, this year was different. The conventions are actually the main reason that, today, there’s a good chance #ImWithHer.