Will Clinton Show Authentic Leadership on Education?

I met former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton last spring at the San Jose State University Event Center, as part of the “Unique Lives & Experiences” lecture series that my wife, Christine, helps run as an associate producer. We exchanged some brief words during a photo-op with my wife and son, Zach. As we posed together I couldn’t help but wonder if I was standing next to POTUS 45, the woman who has the best chance to break the gender glass ceiling.

While watching “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” on Sunday I was struck by an assertion made by political analyst Mark Halperin. In the context of answering a question about the 2016 election, Halperin said: "But right now, she (Clinton) is so far and away the most likely next president of the United States.” Halperin clarified his prediction with a “most likely,” adding that “if she performs, if she shows authenticity, more than anything else, if she shows people who she really is and has a second chance to introduce herself; I think it would be very hard to beat her if she performs."

No doubt authenticity is a critical trait for political success. And yet, I wonder whether Clinton can be as authentic as that moment she shed genuine tears in 2008, before the New Hampshire primary. Or in 1996, when she wrote the book "It Takes A Village" and these words: "Imagine a country in which nearly all children between the ages of three and five attend preschool in sparkling classrooms, with teachers recruited and trained as child care professionals. Imagine a country that conceives of child care as a program to 'welcome' children into the larger community and 'awaken' their potential for learning and growing."

I am an ardent supporter of high quality early childhood education for all. Since early 2013, County Board of Education trustees Mah, Green and I have been engaged with a broad collection of community leaders in what has now become a Strong Start committee. County Office of Education officials such—Superintendent Jon Gundry; Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, chief schools officer; Dr. Lisa Kaufman, director of early learning; and Don Bolce, director of special projects—are also integrally involved in supporting the work of the effort.

Strong Start committee members believe the work we do to develop learning from birth to age 5 will change the game in addressing local economic development, making the middle class more accessible, eliminating the achievement gap, increasing college enrollment and lowering crime/incarceration rates. Neuroscience research in the last few decades has shown conclusively that brain development before children enter school is vital to school and life success.

President Obama's proposed 2016 budget champions universal preschool. The "preschool for all" initiative will attempt to expand high quality pre-K programs for poor and moderate-income families. There is a growing, bipartisan consensus that an investment in early learning is the most cost-effective way to reduce inequality.

I will give my unequivocal support to Clinton for President of the United States if she shows authenticity and advances early education initiatives.

Test one: Will Clinton support President Obama's 2016 budget as it relates to early learning in meaningful and authentic ways? She certainly believes in the cause based on her writings of nearly two decades.

Test two: When Clinton does declare for the presidency, will she prescribe a dosage of two years of early learning as an essential part of the national budget in her stump speeches? Will she highlight the return on investment for early learning that other countries have benefited from while leap-frogging American students in achievement?

Test three: Will Clinton equate early learning to our national and economic security, as well as a robust middle class?

If Clinton gets the mandate in November 2016 to lead, along with a Democratic majority in both the House and Senate, we can make her words from 1996 a reality and change the trajectory of America.

Concurrently, in the run-up to the election we must work in the present to further advance the lives of Santa Clara County's children. As the ancient Greek Proverb says, "A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under whose shade they will never sit."

Joseph Di Salvo is a member of the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s Board of Trustees. He is a San Jose native. His columns reflect his personal opinion.

15 Comments

      • Why are we putting people into positions of power based on who they slept with? I see it happen quite a bit on our local scene. Beyond that, what kind of message is Hilary sending young women? “It’s OK for your spouse to cheat on you if they’re your meal ticket?”

        A lot of people are clamoring for Hilary hoping that a name brand tied to one of the US’s most productive decades will garner votes.

        I’d take Elizabeth Warren any day of the week.

        • > I’d take Elizabeth Warren any day of the week.

          It’s evident that a lot of news from the outside world does not make it to SJI or many of it’s deeply immersed posters.

          Lizzie Warren (known as “Pocahantas” to people outside the progressive bubble) is really a testimonial to how weak the Democrat prospect list is for the 2016 election.

          Name the serious Democrat candidates for 2016:

          Hillary Clinton, and Elizabeth Warren, and … and … and….. Well. It’s still early. Right?

          The Great Rush Limbaugh has often asserted that Obama has shown over his career that he wins elections by “clearing the field” of opponents.

          It’s looking like Obie has cleared the field of Democrats as well.

          What goes around, comes around.

  1. Joseph,
    There are many of us that have tried to raise awareness, to the horrible toxic results of babies 1 to 6 years, that have been exposed to lead, in the home. Especially in the ghettos of our Eastside, next to the Mexican Heritage Gardens.
    in 30 years, not one politician has championed these families with babies.
    Will this change? Not as long as folks like you don’t raise the awareness. A child’s twisted brain from a failed brain development,. because of a high Blood lead in their system, has no chance to achieve an education. Limited at the very most. If Clinton is to achieve success, she must set up testing facilities in the older neighbor hoods, and text every living space, older than the late 70’s. that will contaminate a child, in their hand to mouth period of development 1 yr to 6 yrs, when the brain become fully developed
    Then, you can say you met this dilemma with success.
    I am as a man screaming in the desert!
    A 65% drop out rate in our Hispanic community, is not the result of our ignorance, it is the result of the ignorance that abounds in our halls of government.

    .

  2. When a politician lies, Republicans say: “I’m never going to believe that S.O.B. again.”

    When a politician lies, Democrats say: “Oh well. But the NEW, IMPROVED lie is so wonderful, I’m willing to believe it in case it might be true.”

  3. The County Office of Education’s web site advises parents and those interested in volunteer tutoring to seek out http://www.hearts4minds.org/
    – see http://www.sccoe.org/resources/families/Pages/default.aspx

    The Hearts4Minds site is dead and has been for some time. It’s registered to Sam Liccardo, 200 E. Santa Clara St, San Jose. Sam and SVLG head Carl Guardino extoll its virtues at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRwdUbrSi2s uploaded in 2012.

    This appears one of several initiatives to burnish Sam Liccardo’s image in advance of the election.

    Unclear what’s available to link students and volunteers given that Sam’s sham is shuttered.

  4. > This appears one of several initiatives to burnish Sam Liccardo’s image in advance of the election.

    WHAT??!!!

    I’m shocked!

    Has anything like this ever happened before?

  5. Well, we already know the kind of “leadership” Hillary showed in protecting our Libyan Ambassador and others in that embassy.

  6. Only with Hillary as the Dems nominee do the Repubs. have a chance at the White House.

    • Scott Walker versus elitist Harvard professor and affirmative action token Elizabeth Warren?

      Scott Walker.

      Scott Walker versus socialist Bernie Sanders?

      Scott Walker

      Scott Walker versus Joe Biden?

      BWAAHAAAHAAAHAAA! ! !

  7. Why are we even talking about this person? Have we not had enough of the Clintons? OMG, let her go.