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So, another day and another diary.  I've been pondering the Obama experience issue, especially since my husband is running for State Senate in California.  Yes, this is going to be a big topic for me because it's so close to home.

How does having a PhD in music and holding no prior office qualify Gary for the Senate or for any office for that matter? Just wondering.

Posted by: Curious at February 21, 2008 03:52

Or for any office for that matter?  Hm, this was a shocking sight since Gary has just started running and so far we've been told he doesn't have much of a chance.  

But the main issue is, experience is relative, isn't it?  This argument is being used again and again against Obama and I find it to be one of the weakest.  How do you get experience being President anyway?  You become one.  No one can ever be fully prepared for one of the hardest jobs in the world, so who is to say what experience would qualify someone to lead the free world?

Gary, my husband, is just running for State Senate and it used to be that serving your community in this manner wasn't a one way ticket to a new career.  And we feel that the thing that qualifies him the most is the fact that he's had quite a bit of life experience in his 37 years.  Gary has been through almost every form of the California public school system and he's put himself through that system without help except for loans.  

Gary was born in California and he's attended k-12, two different community colleges and two UC's.  He teaches at a community college and has also taught at UCI as a guest lecturer and a summer school instructor.  Gary has direct contact with those who are in the California school system and understands the challenges many of his students face.  And seeing as though our daughter Charlotte will be entering this school system this September, we have a vested interest in it's ability to form the characters and the minds of our children.  

No Child Left Behind has been a categorical failure and this administration has also failed to deal with the immigration issues that are facing not just the state of California but the entire Country.  What good has their experience done for us?  What good has it done for you?

Obama does not lack the experience and he will surround himself with advisers in order to help him through this uncharted territory.  It's what every President does, they don't run the Country so much as set the tone.  For me, the tone of Obama is much more appealing than that of Clinton.  As much as she deserves to be the nominee I don't believe she is our best chance to win.  What does ready on day one mean?

And I should know the power of "Yes we can", because it's the only way to take on any challenge, the only way.  Why even bother if you start off chanting, "No we can't".  Why?  And so that alone sets the right tone.  It doesn't mean it won't be difficult and it doesn't mean everything put forth by Obama as President will go through, but I do believe in the power of "Yes we can".

Gary is running for California State Senate because no other "D" had stepped forward to do so.  I already outlined this in my first diary about his run entitled, 'Choosing to be inspired, a candidate's wife and a grassroots campaign', but I don't think I will ever be able to say this phrase enough,  "If a Democrat doesn't run then how can a Democrat win?".

So who represents the experience candidate in this race?  Mimi Walters is currently in the California State Assembly and she recently voted with the party line to keep intact a loophole that allows yacht owners to avoid certain taxes.  That's right, yacht owners.

It might not seem like such a big deal if it weren't for the fact that California is facing a 16 billion dollar shortfall and is threatening to cut funding to the states already hurting school system.

School districts across California have begun trimming services and preparing to lay off teachers in response to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed budget, which could cut about $4.8 billion in education funding this year and next year. Educators say it's the worst financial crisis they can remember.


"There isn't a whole lot of fat left to squeeze. You squeeze now by cutting jobs and teachers," said Bill Hedrick, president of the Rialto Education Assn. "We expect some of our members not to have jobs next fall. That's the reality of the situation."

The Los Angeles Unified School District, the state's largest, could have a $560-million deficit next year, an amount that would affect classroom programs. The district already had agreed to trim almost $100 million from next year's budget to comply with county guidelines before Schwarzenegger's announcement in January of his fiscal plan, which includes $460 million more in potential.

Now the closure of this loophole (or sloophole as they call it around here) for yacht owners would not help much in the long run, but doesn't it seem rather odd that someone with so much "experience" (10 plus years in public service according to her website) would want to protect yacht owners rather than public schools?

So you see, this experience argument is used at many levels of Government from State Senators to Presidential candidates and to me it holds very little water.  Over and over again, experience politicians have put the interests those who need little help over the interests of those who need the most help.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't believe that Obama is without his own baggage and it baffles me when people completely exclude the fact that he served in a state senate for years before moving on to the US Senate.  But I also don't believe that he lacks the experience needed and as I said, it's the tone that matters.

"Yes we can".  See, this is something that has won me over, because why even bother running if you don't think you can win, right?  "No we can't" isn't the best way to start any fight and both Gary and I have decided to go the same route, "Yes we can".  

And sadly, people don't vote on issues as much as they used, it's just a fact.  But then again, I don't believe Obama is lacking on substance either, I'm impressed with his proposals for transparency in Government and the lack of mandate is not a deal breaker for me.  "Progress not perfection" is another favorite saying of mine and if Obama can take us from 47 million uninsured to 15 million uninsured, I see that as a first step.  Anyone who argues for a system that is anything other than single payer cannot say they are for Universal Health Care, it's just a phrase that's been thrown around rather lightly (Remember Hillary was calling all of their plans UHC?  Yes, she left out Kucnich too).

And, I'm happy with his education plan as well, he does have a plan, such as all this.  Does it mean every element is perfect?  NO.  But he does have substance and he does ideas.  OH yes and he does have "words".  Those are important to me too, "Yes we can" does matter to me.

Early Childhood Education

   * Zero to Five Plan: Obama's comprehensive "Zero to Five" plan will provide critical support to young children and their parents. Unlike other early childhood education plans, Obama's plan places key emphasis at early care and education for infants, which is essential for children to be ready to enter kindergarten. Obama will create Early Learning Challenge Grants to promote state "zero to five" efforts and help states move toward voluntary, universal pre-school.
   * Expand Early Head Start and Head Start: Obama will quadruple Early Head Start, increase Head Start funding and improve quality for both.
   * Affordable, High-Quality Child Care: Obama will also provide affordable and high-quality child care to ease the burden on working families.
         o Reform No Child Left Behind: Obama will reform NCLB, which starts by funding the law. Obama believes teachers should not be forced to spend the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests. He will improve the assessments used to track student progress to measure readiness for college and the workplace and improve student learning in a timely, individualized manner. Obama will also improve NCLB's accountability system so that we are supporting schools that need improvement, rather than punishing them.
         o Make Math and Science Education a National Priority: Obama will recruit math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession and will support efforts to help these teachers learn from professionals in the field. He will also work to ensure that all children have access to a strong science curriculum at all grade levels.
         o Address the Dropout Crisis: Obama will address the dropout crisis by passing his legislation to provide funding to school districts to invest in intervention strategies in middle school - strategies such as personal academic plans, teaching teams, parent involvement, mentoring, intensive reading and math instruction, and extended learning time.
         o Expand High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities: Obama will double funding for the main federal support for afterschool programs, the 21st Century Learning Centers program, to serve one million more children.
         o Expand Summer Learning Opportunities: Obama's "STEP UP" plan addresses the achievement gap by supporting summer learning opportunities for disadvantaged children through partnerships between local schools and community organizations.
         o Support College Outreach Programs: Obama supports outreach programs like GEAR UP, TRIO and Upward Bound to encourage more young people from low-income families to consider and prepare for college.
         o Support English Language Learners: Obama supports transitional bilingual education and will help Limited English Proficient students get ahead by holding schools accountable for making sure these students complete school.
     Recruit, Prepare, Retain, and Reward America's Teachers
         o Recruit Teachers: Obama will create new Teacher Service Scholarships that will cover four years of undergraduate or two years of graduate teacher education, including high-quality alternative programs for mid-career recruits in exchange for teaching for at least four years in a high-need field or location.
         o Prepare Teachers: Obama will require all schools of education to be accredited. He will also create a voluntary national performance assessment so we can be sure that every new educator is trained and ready to walk into the classroom and start teaching effectively. Obama will also create Teacher Residency Programs that will supply 30,000 exceptionally well-prepared recruits to high-need schools.
         o Retain Teachers: To support our teachers, Obama's plan will expand mentoring programs that pair experienced teachers with new recruits. He will also provide incentives to give teachers paid common planning time so they can collaborate to share best practices.
         o Reward Teachers: Obama will promote new and innovative ways to increase teacher pay that are developed with teachers, not imposed on them. Districts will be able to design programs that reward accomplished educators who serve as a mentor to new teachers with a salary increase. Districts can reward teachers who work in underserved places like rural areas and inner cities. And if teachers consistently excel in the classroom, that work can be valued and rewarded as well.
     Higher Education
         o Create the American Opportunity Tax Credit: Obama will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This universal and fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students. Obama will also ensure that the tax credit is available to families at the time of enrollment by using prior year's tax data to deliver the credit when tuition is due.
         o Simplify the Application Process for Financial Aid: Obama will streamline the financial aid process by eliminating the current federal financial aid application and enabling families to apply simply by checking a box on their tax form, authorizing their tax information to be used, and eliminating the need for a separate application.

And, this is something I want to teach to my daughter, "Yes she can".  So many times girls are told that there are things they just can't do, not happening here.  She can do almost anything she wants if she puts her mind to it.  So shouldn't we all be saying, "Yes we can"?

So, experience matters, it just depends on what kind of experience you are talking about and tone matters too.  Yes, we have our work cut out for us, not just in this very red district in a very blue state, but Democrats across in the country in every district need to be saying, "Yes we can".  

You can earn your 'A' is a post by the California Democratic Party at Calitics and they gave a shout out to Gary for choosing to run.  It made our day!

Many of you probably remember when Gov. Howard Dean issued his now-famous citizens' report card:

       * If you vote you get a "D"
       * If you donate money to your candidate you get a "C"
       * If you do all of that and volunteer you get a "B"
       * But if you do all that and run for office, then and only then do you get an "A."

Well, we'd like to start out by saying that our hat is off to all Democrats running for office, like Gary Pritchard for his "A" performance in California's SD-33.  

But Gary doesn't have to be the only Calitician to earn an "A" this year. We are in the midst of another electoral race, one that not very many people know about, but one which is of utmost importance to California Democrats.  

Originally posted to Ellinorianne on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 07:29 PM PST.

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